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Spring Awakening

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The name of this fic was inspired by the musical 'Spring Awakening' as it fits Abigram so well. Here is the wonderful crossover art to get you started (http://musicboxmemories.tumblr.com/post/166433746571/abigail-will-spring-awakening-click-for-full):

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“I hope you like it." Awkwardly, Will rubbed the back of his neck and waved a hand, averting his eyes toward the floorboards of Abigail's hospital room.

"The last time I was here, I noticed you only have a small bookshelf to choose from. I figured you might need some more books for your collection." Smiling faintly, he added, "I have an entire library at my house, should you need anything in particular. It's a bit embarrassing how much I own, actually. Books help me sleep." Though not lately. Nothing could aid with his nightmares as of late.

"Thanks. The books here aren't even my thing." Abigail gave him a small smile.

"I, uh...also stopped by to see if you might like to leave the hospital for a bit? Just to get a change of scenery?" In his mind's eye, he could see Alana Bloom disapprovingly shaking her head. She'd warned him not to reach out to Abigail due to potential unhealthy attachments, but as far as Will was concerned, that ship had long since sailed. He cared for Abigail. He wanted to be there for her and as long as the feeling was mutual, he didn't see any harm in establishing some sort of connection.

Abigail was pleasantly surprised, if a little unnerved, to even see Will here without Hannibal. She had become so sure he deliberately avoided her. Whether it was real or if he just didn't want to end up feeling her father's darkness, it made her feel awful. Will was her saviour when you got down to it, and he seemed kind, so she had been immediately drawn to him and then disappointed when he had pulled away. She couldn't help her natural suspicion at this change.

"Yeah, sure. We can do that." She tried to seem nonchalant but she was dying to go out.

"I can get you something different?" Will offered. Guilt colored his actions, as he was more than aware that he often bought presents whenever emotionally charged. In that moment, Abigail seemed indifferent - not that he could blame her. In her eyes, he was undoubtedly the monster who tore up the framework of her family unit. As terrible as Hobbs had been, there was still comfort in familiarity.

"No!" Abigail protested, sliding her fingers over the books. "These are way better." She knew she was letting how pleased she was to see him show and it was embarrassing. She knew he felt bad about shooting her dad but she didn't really know how she felt about that. Her dad had made her life a waking nightmare for so long and now he was gone, she was waking up.

"I've already signed you out at the front desk, so we have a bit of leeway. We can go anywhere you'd like." Will assured her. He moved to touch her elbow, thought better of it, and instead gestured for her to follow him out the door. "I almost brought my dogs with me to visit, but I assumed the hospital would frown on that many at one time. And...I know I haven't been around lately, but I figured you might need some space. Hopefully I wasn't wrong in that assumption."

"The doctors would say I need space but...I've had more than I can take in here. Plus I'd like to see your dogs." She got up quickly and stuck her feet into her shoes to follow him.

"Sometimes therapists can't get the full picture,” Will agreed. “I fought against the prospect of therapy my entire life, but every now and then their suggestions prove fruitful. I'll admit I've been kind of...selfish in terms of what you do and don't need. My coming out here was more for my own ease over your current state." Leading Abigail out into the hall, Will arched a surprised brow. "You, uh...you're saying you'd like to come home with me? Because as much as I'd enjoy introducing you to the dogs, there isn't much to do in Wolf Trap. I don't even own a TV. Well...I have an old one, but I only get basic channels. Though I do have a pond, if you enjoy swimming."

Abigail was confused. Did he only come here out of obligation? Figures, she thought to herself, annoyed that she had allowed herself to get excited to see him, but then he seemed like he was asking her over.

"Well you don’t have to worry, I'm fine." She told him, the walls going half back up and making her sharp. "But sure, if you want me to come see your dogs, I'd like that." She shrugged like she couldn't care less but knew she was probably failing at that too.

Will could sense her disengaging and slowly lost his smile. "I want you to come," he softly assured her. "I've heard you've been jumping the wall again and that suggests unrest, perhaps even loneliness... Whatever you're getting here is not what you need." Hesitant, he pressed his hand into the small of her back, only to guiltily withdraw as if he'd burned her.

Abigail nodded but had to keep from smirking when he touched her and then went weird. It was nice but she was still unsure of what his deal was today. "I only jump the wall because I hate it here." She eyed him. "And I don't always go to Hannibal." She raised an eyebrow, not about to let him think he was a step ahead by knowing that. She didn't even know what she needed, and she wasn't getting anything from anyone but mushroom tea and gentle lectures.

Will hated the sharp sting that filled him any time Abigail mentioned Hannibal. To Dr. Lecter, welcoming Abigail into his world had been easy and effortless. He was never met with moody glances or distrust, though Will knew he shouldn't be resentful. He was lucky she was even willing to speak to him at all, all things considered.

"I want to help with whatever you need." He would deny to himself that he wanted to be what she needed, because it was selfish and inconsiderate of her feelings. Taking hold of her elbow, Will led Abigail toward the parking lot. "I've recently made up the guest room, just in case you're too tired to come back tonight. It's a fairly long drive from Baltimore to Wolf Trap, but as I've said, we can do whatever you want together...or apart, if you'd prefer."

She got to his car and then a thought occurred. "Oh damn, I should bring stuff if...if I'm staying." She gazed at him across the car roof.

Abigail's realization took Will off guard and he flashed her an obliging grin. “I’ll wait here,” he said. It seemed like the right thing to do to give her some privacy. Though by the time Abigail returned, Will was overcome by a wave of anxiety about just that. He'd never housed a teenage girl before. Despite his empathy, the fairer sex bewildered him.

"Seems like you've got an awful lot in there," he teased. "Are you worried we'll get snowed in?" It currently wasn't cold enough for snow (or cold at all, truthfully) but as he eased them out of the parking lot, the need to break the awkward silence was overwhelming.

Abigail had stuffed dumb things into her bag - unsure what she needed and erring on the side of caution. She huffed an embarrassed laugh when he noticed how full it was. "Oh just...girl crap." She said dismissively.

"So, uh...do you have any questions for me?" Great. He was getting informal and stiff. "That is to say, I know the Bureau isn't really telling you much, so I'm willing to answer any questions you have about the case, your dad, or...even me, if you wish. God only knows you deserve the truth."

She had no idea what to say sat in a car with a good looking man who once saved her life, so she watched the scenery instead. When he spoke she panicked - did he know about Hannibal? About her? Is that what he was driving at? So many lies. "Well...I don't know much about the case at all, isn't it over with? Since you know...my dad's dead." She looked away again.

Will winced at her remark. Jesus. He was really bad at this whole socialization thing. "Unfortunately, it's not that simple," he said. "Further investigative measures need to be taken, especially since all of the girls haven't yet been found. We also need to check and see if..."

He had an accomplice. Shaking the thought from his head, Will amended. "Never mind. I brought you out here to forget all that, not to encourage it. You'll have to forgive me... I wasn't good at talking to women in school, and I'm definitely not any better at it now... As if you couldn’t tell."

Abigail knew what he had been going to say. They - or at least Jack Crawford - had suspicions about her, but Hannibal seemed to trust that Will was cool and frankly even she could tell that was a big deal. "It's fine." She said quickly. "I'm hardly…women, I'm just...me." She shrugged. If she had been that competent with men herself she would perhaps have used this conversation to flirt but...no.

Switching on the radio, Will appeared nervous as he cleared his throat. "I would like to know you better...if you'll allow me the pleasure. There are very few people I allow into my world." He glanced over at her before looking away again. "Can you tell me something about yourself? Maybe hobbies or interests? If it helps, I'll go first - I enjoy fishing and tinkering in my garage. I used to be a freelance mechanic for a brief while before, uh...before all this began."

"OK." She nodded, she could do that. "WelI I like books as you can tell, and music, and seeing my friends but not really...so much now." She was embarrassed at her new alienation. Marissa was dead and most of her other friends were keeping their distance. Their parents had probably warned them of her.

Will felt an ache in his chest. Abigail had found her closest friend mounted to a set of antlers, and now she had what? Just him and Hannibal? It wasn't great, especially for a young, floundering woman who could barely step foot outside without being condemned. Hesitant, Will reached over and touched her hand, gently interlocking their fingers before giving them a squeeze.

"I may not be an ideal friend, all things considered, but I'll always be here if you need someone. I can give you my cell number, should you wish to call, and I can come by anytime you need me, no matter how late or early." He pressed her palm yet again, then let go.

"Whether we like it or not, we're connected via circumstance. As painful as it is to relive, sometimes we need to talk to those who understand us most...and you can do that with me, Abigail." Brushing his hand along her shoulder, Will returned his touch to the steering wheel and sighed.

Abigail sucked her lip to keep from bursting into tears at his sudden outpouring of kindness. She had no idea he cared this much, that anyone did. Nobody had showed her affection like that since her mom and his words touched her.

Racking his brain, Will added as an afterthought, "Do you like board games? I've got plenty of those..." Of course she didn't. What kind of teenage girl did?

"Thanks, Will, really." Abigail said, looking forward to having someone else to contact besides Alana and Hannibal. She found it so hard to show people anything now and was glad he changed the subject. She didn’t want to seem pathetic so she composed herself quickly. "Well...not really but, I weirdly like Scrabble."

“Nothing weird about it," Will assured her with a smile. "You're bookish, so it's not all that surprising and besides, I'm sure you'd enjoy the humiliation I'd experience at your hand. I may read a lot of poetry, but I'm not terribly good at puzzles." He was perhaps selling himself short, but the idea of curling up by the fire with a board game and helping take Abigail's mind off the world warmed him.

"Poetry? Really?" She was surprised but it was actually cute. "I'm sure you'd give me a run for my money." She dozed off not long after.

*

A few hours later, Will eased his vehicle up the long, winding path of his driveway. The farmhouse rolled into view and he smiled, weary and relieved. "Well...this is it," he announced. Reaching over, he gently nudged Abigail awake. "I hope you like it here. There's not much to do, but like I said, we can improvise."

It felt like no time had passed and his house was not at all what she'd pictured. Abigail smiled as she got out, some of the bushes were starting to flower for spring and his suggestion sounded almost playful.

"It's pretty." She said honestly.

Will couldn't help but flush with pride. Many years of sweat and blood had gone into refurbishing the house, and hearing the validation proved to him that the effort had been worth it.

"It was my first house with my father," he explained. "We, uh…well…my mother left when I was very young, so our first house had too many bad memories. We hopped from apartment to apartment, biding our time until we had enough money for a house. When that day finally came, my dad was so excited. To this day, I can still see the twinkle in his eye." He smiled.

Helping Abigail with her bag (which was heavier than it looked), Will stepped up to the front stoop and opened the door. Almost all at once, his dogs swarmed out in an eager rush of snuffling and warm tongues. He chuckled and stooped over to pet Winston. Buster, meanwhile, made a beeline for Abigail and rose on his hind legs, furiously wagging his tail as he attempted to gain her attention.

Abigail frowned. "Oh I'm sorry, Will. You guys really made this place a home." She said. Sure, her dad let her down in the worst way but she was an adult. It pained her to imagine a little Will growing up without a mommy.

"It was a long time ago," Will said, though not unkindly. There was always the underlying resentment and fear of being abandoned, but he had learned to live with it just like every other questionable aspect of his life. If he tamped it down enough, it was almost as if his past didn't exist. Evidently, they both had had dismal childhoods. Perhaps it was why he felt such tenderness towards Abigail.

Will smiled fondly. "You know, they say dogs are an excellent judge of people," he said. "I think Buster likes you. If you'd like, you can keep him tonight when you sleep. I find that dogs help to chase away the nightmares."

Abigail bent down to pet the fat little dog at her feet. "Hey, Buster, you wanna come to bed with me?" She cooed then realised how it sounded.

"Trust me, he's never said no to a pretty lady, though a treat might help to grease the wheels." Motioning for Abigail to follow him inside, he added. "Let me show you to your room. Truth be told, it was my room as a boy, but I gave it up in favor of my father's room. I mostly sleep downstairs these days though, since I find more relief in open spaces. It can get hot up here."

She didn't know what else to say about it when she realised Will had called her pretty. She kept her eyes on Buster and the other dogs, flattered. Leading the way, Will took Abigail to a small, yet pleasant room overlooking his boundless land. Beyond the treeline was the large pond he had mentioned.

"Well…this is it," Will said, lingering in the doorway. "The bed's got one of my grandma's quilts on it, so you won't have to worry about getting cold at night. You, uh…you unfortunately don't have an adjoined bath, but there's one out in the hallway we can share. And that..." He pointed outside. "Is where you can go swimming or fishing, should you so desire. I don't usually swim, but I do enjoy fishing out there on the weekends."

"Oh Will it's lovely." Abigail said sincerely, going straight to look out of the window. "But I didn't have a bathing suit to bring." She gazed at the water.

Fiddling with a wooden boat on the dresser by the door, Will paused at her remark. "Oh, uh...I suppose you wouldn't," Will agreed. "I highly doubt they'd request that you prep for a resort-like stay.”

Abigail looked over her shoulder and huffed a laugh. "No they really don't and it's no wonder." She quirked her eyebrows, totally sick of that place and keen not to keep talking of it now that she was getting some time away.

“I rarely go in myself, but if you want, you can borrow one of my old t-shirts. I only wear them when I tinker around in the garage." Will gestured behind him. "I can get them from my room, if you'd like... It's right across the hall."

She followed Will hesitantly when he disappeared into his room and leant against the doorframe, watching him rake around. It smelled like he did only stronger and she smiled to herself. She hadn’t noticed before how much she liked that. "Thanks, maybe the sun will come out properly and then I might take you up on it." She idly petted Buster.

Searching through his lowest drawer, Will felt a tad self-conscious when he realized Abigail was observing in the doorway. Though tidy by nature, he knew there were whiskey and pill bottles decorating his nightstand. Attempting not to glance in that direction, he instead focused on getting her a shirt. Once he'd found one that wasn't too threadbare, he handed it to Abigail.

"Sorry about the grease stains...I use these shirts to fix things. I also apologize for not having any bottoms that you can wear, but I wouldn't recommend wearing those jeans. You'll become waterlogged. It's better to go bottomless." Moving into the doorway, Will clumsily attempted to claim Abigail's attention from his room by touching her shoulder. He brushed his thumb along the delicate curve, forcing himself to maintain eye contact with her wide, all-encompassing gaze.

"Are you hungry?" he asked. "You're my guest here, so give me guidance on what we should do next."

Abigail startled a little at his blasé suggestion to swim in her panties but she didn't show it. His hand on her shoulder made it worse. She nodded. "Yeah I'm starving actually, but you need to stop fretting - I'm just happy to be out of the hospital." She lowered her gaze.

Will offered her an apologetic smile. “Alright. Well..." He gestured behind him, indicating that she follow him into the kitchen. "Don't let my bachelor lifestyle fool you - I promise I can do more than heat up leftover soup and pour cereal, but for the sake of simplicity, how do you feel about grilled cheese?"

Buster yipped and Will scoffed. "I didn't ask you, I asked our guest." The dog gave a sound akin to a huff, rotated three times, then laid out across the linoleum floor.

"I believe you." Abigail teased. "But that sounds pretty good, the hospital food is..." She made a face before coming to stand at the counter and talk to him.

Beginning to pull various ingredients out of the fridge and pantry, Will added them to the counter and rolled up his sleeves. "So...how are you liking Baltimore? It's one of the few places I didn't live growing up." He winced a bit, both from his insensitivity to Abigail and bringing up his own past. He doubted she'd ever consider Baltimore great, if only because of the reason behind her move.

Abigail watched the dogs milling around for a bit while she thought about his question. "It's fine." Abigail said finally. "In a way it's similar to home and in a way it's reallyyyy not, but it's probably for the best that I don't see familiar stuff. How long have you been here?" She asked, shifting the direction of the conversation back to Will. He looked different in his natural habitat. Less stressed.

With the light streaming in through the kitchen window, Abigail appeared softer and less world-weary. Will smiled at her as he began placing cheese between bread. "Maybe you're finding yourself. Since I traveled around so often as a boy, it took me well into adulthood to finally find my niche. I've been here over 10 years now, including the time I lived here with my father." He glanced down at the counter. "New Orleans was my favorite though. I worked homicide down there."

Moving over to the griddle, Will placed the sandwiches down and used the cooking as an excuse to avoid eye contact. He wasn't certain why he wanted to help Abigail - he wasn't certain why she tugged at his heart so strongly - but it was beginning to unnerve him.

Clearing his dry throat, Will continued. "You're young and beautiful and intelligent. In our shallow world that typically gives you an in, so as soon as your father is forgotten - and he will be - you can resume a life of normalcy. You won't have to deal with me or the Bureau or nosy strangers ever again."

Abigail listened to Will talk about his life as he cooked. She nodded absently at his comment about finding herself - she still felt totally lost - then smiled as she pictured him in such a totally different place. "So were you an actual cop with a uniform?" She asked, struck for a second by the image of him young and dressed like that. She shook the image away. "Don't you hate the cold here if you loved it there?" She was avoiding his suggestion that she might not have to see him again. Somehow, her gut was telling her she wouldn’t like that and it was weird.

Will had to laugh. "Of course I did. I may not be real FBI, but I was a real cop. I wouldn't be terribly authoritative if I didn't have a uniform. I still have it somewhere...probably packed away in the attic." Setting the finished grilled cheese down in front of Abigail, Will also passed her ketchup and napkins in case she needed them before having a seat across from her.

"I like the cold," he said simply. "New Orleans is known for its hot climate, but I was more drawn in by the people and the culture than the heat. Of course, my night terrors weren't nearly as bad back then, so getting overheated wasn't as much of an issue." He lowered his eyes, feeling slightly self-conscious.

Abigail had to hide her blush, hair falling over her face as she squeezed ketchup on her plate. She didn't want to even entertain the idea of him in uniform right now. Her face fell as he talked about his nightmares, though. "Sorry to hear that, my nightmares are...pretty bad too." She empathised, but she couldn't go there right now either, or she might cry.

Will's smile faded slightly at her clear distress. "You're not alone, and if for whatever reason you need me tonight, I'm just down the hall." Folding his hands, he watched Abigail a moment before lowering his eyes to the tabletop. "How about you? Baltimore isn't bone-chillingly cold, but it's not overly warm either. How's it feel slipping from frigid Minnesota weather to Baltimore's more mild climate? I always imagined your lot bathing in fur coats."

Abigail was surprised at how much his presence soothed her and how much she was reassured but the knowledge that tonight if she woke, he would be there. She wasn't sure she would be able to go to him in his bed but still he would be close by. "Yeah, it's a little more pleasant." Abigail took a bite, chewed and swallowed. "I don't need to wear all those 'fur coats' so much. I can wear my nicer clothes." She smiled.

"I'm glad you're here, Abigail." He wanted to say more, but feared his words would end up a deterrent. His lips quirked. "Glad to know you won't be bathing in a fur coat," he teased. "You'd become so waterlogged that I'd have to come pry you out of the tub." Winston nuzzled into Will's thigh and he smiled, stroking along the dog's soft fur.

Abigail laughed softly at that image. "At least I wouldn't be as embarrassed if you had to rescue me in the coat." She changed the subject away from the sentiment, as he was obviously shy about that stuff. She was too sometimes but she wanted Will to like her. "I'm glad I'm here too." She said honestly.

"Uhh..." Will cleared his throat, now rising from the table as realized his joke had tottered along the cusp of being inappropriate. Using his coffee as an excuse to busy his hands, he dumped the half-sipped brew into the sink. "I have an attic too, uh...if you need more privacy," he said. Smooth recovery. "I have a telescope up there, so sometimes I look out the window at the stars. I also have a record player, if you find yourself in need of music." He shook his head. "Of course, you've probably never used one of those, have you? When I was seventeen, my cousin Irma asked - no, forced - me to practice slow-dancing with her for prom. It was the most humiliating experience of my life. Well...aside from prom itself. Did you ever go to yours?" Instantly, Will felt badly for even bringing up her high school experience. He had often wondered if Abigail had attended, given her older age, but he also had a suspicion that Hobbs had held her back to prevent the inevitable - his daughter was all the closer to leaving.

Abigail laughed at that notion, picturing him being dragged around by his bossy cousin. "Yeah I went. It wasn't exactly humiliating but it was nothing special." She said casually and looked up at Will's concerned face. "It was just before...all that started." Abigail clarified and finished her food thoughtfully.

"My mom had a record player, a red one, she loved that thing. I'll be fine in the room you showed me." She eventually told him.

Will had to smile. "What was your theme? It's always something cheesy, like Arabian Nights. I think ours was Under the Sea, though I remember there was a group that staunchly wanted Bohemian Rhapsody. I'm not sure how you'd decorate a school gym to reflect a classic Queen song, but I was too busy vomiting in my cousin's car to remember much anyway. I, uh...might have had a bit of liquor to get me through the ordeal. She hasn't spoken to me ever since."

Abigail's mouth twisted with nostalgic humour. "Hollywood." She announced and smirked, remembering exactly the kind of crappy decor he was talking about.

As Abigail finished up, Will's face grew introspective. "You're welcome to anything you'd like in this house, but I'd advise against the liquor cabinet. I suppose if anyone deserves a drink, it's you, but still." Wonderful. Fabulous. He was encouraging underage drinking now? Taking up her dishes, Will moved them over to the sink and rinsed them off, taking a scrub brush and running it over the plate and cup.

Abigail was a little surprised at his suggestion she might need a drink but in a way it made her feel better, like her problems weren't silly or childish if they warranted drinking them away. "I'll bear that in mind." She said quietly, drifting into the living room.

When Abigail slid off her chair and headed into the other room, it caused Will to awkwardly linger a moment before following after. "I hope I didn't offend you," he said. "I've been told I have the charm of a cactus and I'm twice as prickly, so...this is new for me. I'm not accustomed to caring for someone else, and I mean that in both senses of the phrase." Looking down at the floor, Will moved over to the liquor cabinet by his dusty piano and pulled out a bottle of Jack.

He didn't intend to appear weak and so distraught that he needed to drink, but it was the easiest way to calm his nerves. Pouring himself a glass, Will called back to her, "I want to be whatever you need, Abigail. If you need me to take you bowling every Friday night, you got it. If you need me to buy you books and clothes and supplies, you got it. And if you need me to shut up? Also got it."

Abigail watched him pour his drink and listened to his awkward rambling. God, they were similar. She didn't quite want to actually ask for some of his booze so she just hovered near him. "I truly suck at bowling; I’d never say no to books and no, I don't want you to shut up." She told him honestly.

Will had to chuckle. "You and me both then, so it'd be a fair match," he said, smiling wryly as he lifted the whiskey to his lips. The familiar burn instantly relaxed him and he exhaled, setting the glass down onto the mantel. "Don't say I didn't offer about the shutting up thing, though..." There was a shift in Abigail's eyes then - something softer and more tentative - and his brow pinched as she closed the distance between them.

Abigail was realising how much he wanted to look after her, to bond with her, and it was a welcome change. Her gut took over from her brain and she stepped over to slide her arms around his waist and hug him. She leaned her head on his shoulder, just needing to be held.

Her arms came around Will's middle and instinctively, he embraced her securely around the shoulders, feeling his heart leap into his throat. His cheek nudged into her crown and his fingers slid through her hair, anchoring her against him as she burrowed against his chest. All at once a warm, pleasant heat filled him, and Will held her more strongly. She needed him - him - and a pang of guilt filled him for how much pleasure that brought.

"It's alright," Will whispered, combing his fingers through her hair. "You'll never have to face this alone...not if you don't want to." Pressing his cheek into hers, his chest suddenly felt heavy as he rubbed his hand in between her shoulder blades.

Abigail sank into the warmth of his strong embrace. His hand in her hair felt simultaneously like her mother when she was a little girl, and filled her with something...fluttering and tingly. She fought the tears that threatened, again not wanting to just crumble in front of him. Abigail nodded silently against him instead and wondered if he meant it. She hoped so.

Abigail seemed to cling to him more tightly, her slight frame shivering against his own as he tucked her head beneath his chin. She felt so small and vulnerable in that moment, and in turn, it made him vow to protect her all the more. Pressing a soft kiss to her temple, Will traced his fingers along her spine and murmured, "You'll be fine, Abigail. I know it may not seem like it, but you have plenty of people in your corner. We won't let anything bad happen to you." Hesitant, he rubbed along the small of her back and gave her a soft squeeze. "Do you need a drink?"

Coming from Will and in that low tone of voice, his words were deeply calming. She didn't feel nearly as alone as she had done that morning. She pulled away from him somewhat reluctantly and chewed her lip. "Mmm." She nodded, uncaring if he meant water or something stronger.

Slowly withdrawing, Will slid his hands down to Abigail's shoulders, holding her steady. “You're the strongest person I know," he told her, genuinely meaning it. After giving her shoulders a squeeze, he paused before glancing at the bottle on the mantel. It somehow seemed wrong to entertain the thought, but he would be there to make sure she didn't get sick. He wouldn't allow her to have more than a few fingers of whiskey. Pouring some into his unfinished glass, Will hesitated a moment before handing the drink to Abigail.

"Have you ever had something like this before?" he asked. Somehow, he could envision it. Her father had presumably been uptight and held her on a close leash, so it was realistic to think she had rebelled.

Abigail gave Will a weak smile, not thinking of herself as very strong right now, more just resilient but what choice did she have? She shook her head. "No I mean...I drank sometimes but not whisky." She looked apprehensively into the amber liquid as she took the glass.

Instantly, Will became awash with the sickly sensation of guilt. "You don't have to drink it," he said. "I use it because...nothing else works for me, but we're all different, and you're strong, so I feel confident that therapy is all you truly need. If you'd prefer, I can get you some water. You never have to do anything you don't want to. Perhaps you need a shower. Steam often clears one's head and relaxes their muscles, so that might do you a bit of good. It'd be far better than the alcohol..." Admitting a vice, no matter how small, always left Will with a sinking feeling of dread.

"Why can't I have both?" Abigail said, not wanting to make him feel like she was this young, this fragile. "I know to you it's probably blasphemy but if you have soda...Coke or lemonade or something? I'll mix it and then shower afterwards." She told him, always defaulting to pragmatism.

"It's not that blasphemous. A rum and Coke and John Daly aren't too terrible, though I tend to prefer just taking it straight. Something weaker is definitely best for you though, you're right. I'll see what I have." Heading back into the kitchen, Will returned a moment later with a nearly empty bottle of soda.

"It's from the break room party last week. I don't know why they passed it off to me, ‘cause I rarely even drink the stuff." Handing her the soda, Will eased himself down into his overstuffed chair and poured himself his own drink. "Figured you could balance it out to however you see fit. I'm already in enough moral trouble as it is, so I'd better just cut myself out of the equation," he explained.

Abigail just looked at him and poured the glass almost full with soda. With the powerful alcohol smell coming off the whisky she wasn't taking any chances of sipping it and then wincing like a baby. She took a drink and found it was ok, if a little sweet. "Exactly what, ah... moral trouble are you in?" She asked innocently and sat down too.

Will arched a brow at her question, now absently rolling his glass around between his hands. "In case it wasn't painfully obvious, I'm helping a minor imbibe. You might have an old soul, but that unfortunately doesn't change the law." Taking a generous swallow, Will set down his half-empty glass with a sigh. "I also promoted alcohol as a sleep aid. So in all fairness, it would appear I'm batting two-for-two in the way of being a shitty influence. Perhaps you should ascribe to seek better company. It would seem I'm not overly trustworthy when it comes to you."

Abigail couldn't help but frown, after he had just told her he'd be there for her he was telling her not to hang out with him. She knew he was just being 'prickly' like he said - she had seen plenty of that from him - but it still unsettled her. "I don't see any cops here - you don't really count without the uniform - and you're hardly forcing it down my throat." She took another drink and eyed him, realising how many things she had just said sounded inappropriate. She ignored it and took another long sip, feeling the warmth of the alcohol in her limbs already.

Will smirked around his glass as he knocked back the rest of the drink. With a grimace, he cleared his throat and set down the tumbler. "If you're suggesting I need my badge to be official, I suppose I could go dig it out of my sock drawer..." Expression softening, Will reached out and entrapped Abigail's fingers, now gently brushing his thumb along her knuckles. "I just want to make sure you're comfortable. You've been through a lot, and the last thing I want is to add to your discomfort." Feeling the softness of her palm against his larger, calloused hand, Will smiled while giving her fingers a squeeze.

Abigail drank the rest of her drink just for something to do. Her brain made connections she couldn't or wouldn't examine when he joked about putting on his uniform to basically tell her what to do. She would have been agape if her mouth wasn't busy with her glass. Will's hand once again only made it worse and her nerves jangled a little. She levelled a look into his eyes. "I think I'll take that shower now."

When Abigail knocked back the rest of her drink, Will's eyes widened. "Whoa, whoa, slow down - you don't want to go too fast," he warned. At this point it was useless, seeing how the damage had been done, but he still couldn't help but feel concerned for her. "You’re my guest, so just take whatever you need. Showering does a decent job of sobering yourself up, too. Come on, I'll show you where it is."

Taking her by the arm, Will guided Abigail through the hallway until they came to a bathroom that was stationed between his bedroom and hers. He led her inside. "I've got fresh towels in this closet, some shampoo and stuff, and if you need anything else, just holler. Oh! And I have a non-slip mat, if you'd like to put that down."

"Will." Abigail scolded him. "It's one drink and I know how to shower by myself funnily enough." She huffed a laugh at his fussing but fondly. Sure she could feel the whisky buzzing in her veins but she had been drunk and this wasn't it.

Will lingered a moment before nodding his head. "Well...I suppose I'll go feed the dogs. Afterward, I'll be in the living room, should you need me."

Abigail softly closed the door on him and fiddled with the shower until it was right. She unceremoniously stripped off her clothes and got in, enjoying the heat on her back and inspecting his products.

Men, she thought as she lathered her hair with his imitation shampoo. She did feel tons better, just as he said. Abigail dropped a fat bottle of shower gel which clattered against her foot and the tiles. "Ow." She muttered to herself but picked it up and began to wash.

With Abigail in the bathroom, Will set to work on tidying her guest bedroom. He was already relatively fastidious, but he wanted to make sure she was in a nice place. After taking an extra quilt from the hall closet, he draped it over the foot of her bed and straightened the edges. Just as he moved to grab a nightlight, he heard what sounded like a thud in the bathroom.

“Abigail?” Feeling a stab of panic, Will rushed into the hallway and pressed an ear to the bathroom door, placing a hand on it with uncertainty. The door was not shut the whole way, and swung open with little provocation. He froze.

Steam greeted his senses first, followed by the slim, pale outline of his guest through the sliding glass shower door. She was oblivious (or at least, he hoped she was), and Will felt his heart leap into his throat when the steam began to clear from the glass. Feeling as if the air had been punched from his lungs, he fumbled for the doorframe with one hand, now struggling to support himself as Abigail’s gentle, rounded curves became fully visible. Jesus. Swallowing thickly, Will loathed his inability to look away - why couldn’t he look away? - as she soaped her skin. This was wrong. This was wrong, and with a sorry sound in his throat, he broke away from the sight and went tearing down the hallway.

Chapter Text

When he reached his own bedroom, he closed the door behind him with a bang. Jittery and full of nerves, Will began to pace. Raking his fingers through his hair, he did his best to ignore the painful, incriminating throb beneath his zipper. He couldn’t believe he was aroused. He couldn’t believe that he’d allowed himself to creep on Abigail like some sort of sick pervert and admire her at her most vulnerable. Fumbling for the whiskey on his nightstand, Will trembled and took a few generous swallows.

It wasn’t working. He still throbbed and felt like a livewire, his arousal straining painfully against the front of his pants. Pushing down his slacks and boxers with trembling, jittery fingers, Will got a firm grip on himself and clenched his teeth, filled with self-loathing and humility as he began to work his hand in several firm, brisk strokes. A gust of breath caught in his throat and he quivered. Doubling over against the dresser, he used the wooden structure to support himself as he beat off excitedly, a tingle forming in the pit of his stomach as he frantically pulled on his length. Moving his hand more aggressively, Will’s shoulders tensed up and then he came in a harsh, full body shudder.

Fuck. With a quaking breath, he softened in his grasp and collapsed onto his bed, reeling with both shame and horror over what he’d done. “Son of a bitch,” he hissed. Furious and with his cheeks burning, he removed the incriminating evidence.

Afterward, Will counted to ten before opening the door and heading back out into the hallway. A few of his dogs nosed at his shins as he walked by, but he didn’t even crack a smile as he headed down to the living room. There was something tense and manic about himself in that moment, and with a forced smile he called, “Abigail? Are you in here? I’m sorry, I just needed a quick moment to look for a few things…”

When Abigail was clean she stepped out to a chilly breeze - the door was ajar. She could hear the click of claws against the wood floors out in the hallway though, and figured one of the dogs had curiously nudged it open with their snout. She wrapped herself in a towel and padded into the guest room to dig her clothes out of her bag. She heard Will calling her from downstairs but couldn't really make out what he was saying. "I'm still up here I'll be down in a sec!" She called back, pulling on a clean top and grabbing her hairbrush.

"Hey." She found him in the living room looking a bit off and sat down, brushing the tangles out of her damp hair.

Abigail's sudden appearance startled Will and he turned, anxious and guilt-stricken as he looked into her large, blue eyes. He exhaled, moving to shakily sit on his downstairs mattress. He often came down here to sleep when it was too warm upstairs.

"You look like you're feeling better," he ventured. He flexed his hands, painfully at a loss on what to say to her. He kept his eyes on the floor. Any time he caught a glimpse of skin, he was transported back to the rest of her, and it made his jaw clench. She had been different than he had imagined - not that he'd ever imagined her naked. There was a soft, decidedly adult beauty to her that was inherent in the way she moved and talked, and now, it was all he could see and sense. "What would you like to do now?" he asked, fumbling for proper conversation.

Abigail stared at him, a little unnerved by his sudden change in demeanour. "Well I'm going outside while it's still sunny, dry my hair naturally." She stood up to go outside, causing the dogs to collectively rally and freak out. She noticed he still wasn't looking at her and stopped with her hand on the door handle. "Will, are you ok? Did something happen?" She imagined a phone call with terrible news about the case or some other horror occurring while she had been in the shower.

"I'm fine. I'm just a little winded from running up and down the stairs, that's all. While I was cleaning up, I kept forgetting utensils downstairs," Will babbled. His tone was clipped and short, far shorter than she deserved, and he flushed in frustration.

Agitated, he rose off his makeshift bed and swiped his coat off the rack. "I'll come with you," he offered. "The land's relatively large, so I can give you the grand tour." His shaky smile turned a little more secure. "And by 'tour,' I mean 'and on your left, you'll see nothing but an open field...and on your right, yet another field.’"

Abigail wondered what exactly he was cleaning if she was taking up the bathroom, but she ignored it. Will was always a little squirrelly and it was honestly kind of endearing. She snorted at his terrible joke. Will was funny if you listened properly, but not many people did. "I'd like that, but you don't need that it's warm outside." She nodded in the direction of his coat. "Honestly Will, you'd think you'd seen ghost." She opened the door and let the dogs barrel out before following them, hanging around on the grass for Will to catch up.

Will glanced out at the window at the bright sun, twittering birds, and open sky. "Oh... I guess you're right. Force of habit, I suppose." Dropping his coat back onto the chair, he stepped outside and shut the door behind him, smiling as his dogs gleefully ran circles around Abigail's legs.

"Dogs have a sense about people, you know. They really seem to like you." Appearing rejuvenated in the sunlight, he approached before lightly touching her back. "We can walk toward the pond," he suggested. "Other than that, there isn't much else to look at." Looking down at his hand, he paused, retracted his touch, then shoved his hands into his pockets.

Abigail fell in step with where he was walking, happy to meander around when the weather was so nice. She looked at the dogs too when he mentioned them. "Aww well they're great, I'm definitely a dog person, but you have so many! How do you keep up with them all?" She glanced at him, glad to see him more relaxed again.

"It's not hard. When you love something, it becomes a part of you. Even though I haven't had all of them for long, they all hold an important place in my life. I'm not quite sure where I'd be without them." Sparing Abigail a meaningful glance, he added. "People can be like that too, of course. One day, someone just walks into your life and you wonder how you were ever able to live without them." Buster yipped, and Will laughed. "I think someone's annoyed that we're neglecting him."

Abigail smiled and plopped down on the grass by the water, allowing Buster to lick her face. "No I think this one is just trouble." She joked, but Will's words hadn't gone unheard. She looked up at him, shading her eyes from the sun. "I never had you down as that sentimental, Will." She teased, but only lightly. Truthfully it was heartwarming to see this part of him and she wasn't oblivious to the fact he might mean her.

Will had to chuckle. "I won't deny that. Buster has a tendency to get into trouble the most."
Bending over to fetch a stone along the water's edge, he used the task to avoid eye contact as he shrugged. "Sentiment isn't my strong suit, but every now and then I pull through. Perhaps I should stick to what I know best." Tossing the stone, it skidded across the water once, twice, before sinking to the bottom.

"My dad could do that." Abigail said without thinking. "Sorry." She said petting the fluffy white dog who had come to steal Buster's spotlight.

"Your dad could do what? This?" Will gestured to the rippling, glassy surface of the pond. He hoped she didn't think he was trying to replace Hobbs. Perhaps a part of him had felt it his duty, and with Hannibal's goading he had almost considered it to be true, but now he realized he needed to mind his step. "All things considered, I'd like to know you better. Empathy isn't quite the same...it's more like a superficial surface view." Again, his thoughts traveled to his view of her shower and he cleared his throat.

She had often wondered about his empathy thing, but he had asked her first and she didn't want to be rude. "There's not much to know." She studied Will's soft profile, he was starting to seem more like just a guy, and more and more good looking the longer they just chatted. It was alarming. "My favourite colour is purple, Marissa was my best friend, I want to study psychology and I'm scared of small spaces." She shrugged helplessly.

Abigail's self-deprecation made Will frown, but he didn't interrupt. He couldn't imagine there being “not much” to tell. Once she started explaining herself, he felt a dip of guilt at the mention of Marissa Schurr. Did that mean she didn't have anyone now? "Do you want to be a therapist?" Will asked. "I'll admit I think the majority of the profession is a glorified hoax, but you would be a great person to talk to. You've walked the walk, so it's not like your advice would come from a misguided place."

Picking up another stone, Will reciprocated, "I enjoy earth tones, I don't have a best friend, I studied psychology and criminology in school, and I'm afraid of..." He swallowed back the word ‘abandonment,’ "...loss."

Abigail nodded at the stone ripples and put it out of her mind. "I guess I don't have a best friend either now." She said simply, not meaning anything by it other than facts. "I don't think therapy is a hoax though, I had another friend who recovered from an eating disorder because of it, so yeah...maybe I would want to do that." She sighed, hoping he was right that her troubles meant she might be able to help someone.

She turned to look at him when he said what he feared. Surely he had already experienced some loss too. She didn't want to pry. "What do you want to know then if you're so sure there's something worth knowing?" She smiled, changing the mood.

Will felt himself grow hot under the collar. Abigail's remark almost sounded coy, but he knew better than to presume. "I like you," he said plainly. "That in itself makes you worth knowing. But since you offered, what's your favorite novel? You have quite a few now, but I want to make sure I get you exactly what you want, should I end up at the bookstore again. I'm sure I will. If you didn't notice my shelves in the living room, it's pretty evident that I spend a lot time there." He huffed. "That and nobody knows what to get me for gifts, so I always end up with a book. Or a gift card."

Abigail was quietly flattered. "Well I mean...I like you too." She thought for a bit. "The Secret Life Of Bees...can't imagine why.” She said sardonically. “Have you read all the books in there?" She asked, nodding at the house and smiled skeptically.

"I've never actually read that." Will admitted. "I'm kind of a poetry buff, like I said. I enjoy reading anthologies before bed. There's something relaxing about them, the alliteration and rhyme." With a sheepish glance at the house too, he nodded and tossed another rock. "Just about. I admittedly haven't read all of them, simply because some people who buy me gifts don't entirely understand who I am as a person. For instance, someone actually bought me a bodice ripper. I wasn't aware I gave off the impression I want to read about bland, insipid passion with some ripped Adonis. You're welcome to anything on my shelf, of course." He rolled his eyes.

"Ah, don't knock it until you read it. If it's a real period one, the guy won't even be like that." Abigail gazed sideways at Will, knowing full well he would still hate it, but making a mental note to see if it was one she might like.

"I think I'll pass," Will said dryly. "It may be sexist to imply that only women enjoy reading about sex, but I find that the correlation might be true in my case." His tone was almost defensive as he selected another stone. He waited a beat before offering it to Abigail. "Want to take a shot? We could turn it into a 'high stakes' game."

Abigail shook her head vehemently. "I can't!" She whined. "I've tried and tried before, I don't have the knack. I'll leave it to you." She waved him away.

Abigail's negation made Will's eyes flash mischievously. "All the more reason for you to play! I enjoy the odds where I'm automatically destined to be the winner."

"Fine but don't laugh at me..." She took the stone and fiddled with it for a bit. "What do we win?" She ventured.

Abigail's question made a semblance of his smile return. "I suppose that depends on what you want," he said. "I could lend you a dog for a week...though that might not go over so well with the hospital staff. So perhaps something less intrusive?"

"Hmmm." Abigail pretended to think hard. "Well...you're right about the dogs, so if I win I'll take that book off your hands." She was being decidedly playful now but she felt more comfortable enough around him.

Will arched a brow. "Despite not having read the book, I can guarantee you won't learn any pointers in there...except perhaps what not to do. I've been trapped in the break room while women gossiped about that ‘50 Shades’ trash." He made a face, rolling a stone around in his palm over and over. Even Beverly had succumbed.

Abigail stretched out her toes on one foot and looked them, they needed repainted. "I don't..." she started. "I don't read that stuff to learn anything... I can't explain. Maybe it is a girl thing." She said quietly, eyes lowered.

"No apologies necessary," Will said, smiling in spite of himself. "At least I can be assured of your intellect. Believe me, you have nothing to prove." His smile faltered as he watched her drape her long, slender leg closer and toe the grass. Unsure of whether the heat in his face was from his nerves or the sun, Will cleared his throat and took a slight step back. "Your intimacy is your own business, and I shouldn't have made that joke. In addition to being a social pariah, I'm also what you would call inefficient when it comes to make acceptable quips."

"No I don't mind." Abigail said quickly, hugging her other leg to herself. She wasn’t sure why she even wanted him to know she wasn't that clueless. Maybe just because he was older? Gorgeous? She couldn't put her finger on it but she wanted to make it clear nonetheless. "I just didn't want you to think I'd do that." She added knowing it was a weak reply and turning the attention back on him.

"My opinion of you shouldn't matter and neither should anyone else's." Flexing his hands at his sides, Will drew a breath and rolled his eyes skyward. In for three, out for three. Abigail wasn't intentionally trying to provoke him with this conversation, but sometimes he had to wonder if she was aware of just how much power she held over him. Without trying, he was already aware of how fascinated he was by her.

Abigail scrunched her nose at him. "OK…. If you win...I don't know, you'll have to pick your own prize." She challenged, weighing the stone in her hand.

Truth be told, Will hadn't thought this far ahead and he chuckled nervously. "What, you mean you don't have a trashy novel to exchange for my own? I suppose I'll have to make do with something productive then..."

Looking Abigail over, he decided to go easy on her since she was his guest, among other reasons. "If I win, you'll have to make the desserts I've prepared, and by 'prepared,' I mean they're waiting to be thawed in the freezer."

"Well unfortunately, I do have trashy books I could exchange, but not that piece of crap and not on me. Sorry." Abigail pursed her lips and tossed the stone. It plonked right into the water, as she predicted, and she threw up her hands. "See? Oh well, looks like I'll have to open the freezer...sucks to be me." She nudged him and there was suddenly something in the air that made her feel uneasy again.

Will laughed, only to immediately catch himself. "Sorry," he apologized. "I suppose it's not funny, but if I didn't know any better, I would think you botched that on purpose... That, or you're just that terrible. I could always teach you if you wanted? Perhaps show you the proper stance?" He smiled, and his eyes crinkled warmly around the edges. Abigail was confused for a second until she realised he was going to show her what to do. Awkwardly, he took Abigail by the elbow and placed a stone into her palm.

Will offered her a wry smile, trying to convey that he was merely joking before he said, "Here, if you relax a little, I can show you how to never be an embarrassment again. Firstly, you'll need to turn around." Gently taking hold of Abigail's waist, Will steered her until her backside was facing him. He drew a breath, then slid his hands down toward her wrists, careful with his proximity lest she become uncomfortable. "Now, I'm going to need you to lean back a bit on your right foot - like this. Good... And then move forward and bring all the momentum with you."

Drawing Abigail's right arm back, Will kept his free hand pressed to her waist to guide her form, then helped her with the follow-through. The stone skidded once, then plopped forlornly into the water. "Much better!" Will commended. "Before you know it, I'll be the one thawing the desserts."

Truth be told, Abigail had no idea what he told her and the slight improvement in her throw must have all been him, because all she was aware of was the warmth of him so close around her. She didn't even think she breathed until he let her go. She caught his sarcasm just in time to respond. "I doubt it." She said weakly, sitting back down in the grass.

"Gee, that's the spirit," Will said just as sardonically, though there was no bite to his tone. He smiled and approached the water's edge. "You'll get the hang of it. I've only had so much practice since I was practically born with saltwater in my veins. If I'm not on a boat, I'm hanging out along a pond or lake."

Playfully, Will nudged Abigail with his boot, wondering why she suddenly appeared discomforted. "We can go unthaw that dessert now, if you want? I'm not much for sweets, but I bought candy and toppings just to make sure you get what you want...even whipped cream. I’ve never understood the appeal of that, truth be told. It's like eating foam." Holding out a hand for Abigail to take, he offered what he hoped to be a disarming smile. Holding fast to her hand, Will supported Abigail's weight as she rose, then lingered a moment as they headed toward the house. Brushing his thumb across her knuckles, he reluctantly released her hand (though more out of propriety) before leading her back to the porch.

Abigail tried ignoring how nice that smile was as he pulled her up. "Yeah, foam that tastes good." She corrected him. "I'm not used to that much water...but it's peaceful, I see why you like it." She said as they walked back to the house. The still loaded atmosphere was making her nervous but she pushed it down.

"Did you not get the chance to go to the beach much as a girl?" Will asked. Briefly, he thought of Hobbs and how he likely hadn't wanted Abigail seen in a swimsuit. That was nothing compared to what he'd seen… Feeling the tips of his ears grow red, Will cleared his throat and showed Abigail back inside toward the kitchen. "Since you lost, the honor for opening the freezer is yours. I suppose I can at the very least supervise, just in case it becomes 'too much' for you." He attempted to take on a calmer demeanor as before.

Abigail opened the freezer with Will standing watching her. She was too aware of her own movements and her cheeks were heated - this was getting silly. "I guess not, it was pretty far to an actual beach, but we did go to the lake sometimes. More when I was younger..." She admitted, realising those trips had in fact stopped in recent years. Probably her dad didn't like her being in a bikini once she hit puberty.

Respectfully averting his eyes when she bent to open the freezer, Will idly drummed his fingers against the countertop, ignoring Buster as he curiously nosed his feet. "I could take you," he offered. "I mean, if you wanted... We could go to a beach. There are quite a few near your hospital, so if you're alright with confining yourself in a car with me for a few hours, it shouldn't be an issue." He thought of her in a swimsuit, bright-eyed and pale and dusted with freckles, and dragged his teeth over his lip. Perhaps it would be an issue...

Abigail pulled a box out that said 'Chocolate Brownie Stacks' and waved it at him. "Do you think these might be the ones?" She opened the box before hunting for a plate to defrost them on.

Snapped back to reality by her sass, Will had to smile as Abigail moved past him for a plate. Beating her to it, he retrieved one and set it down onto the counter. Abigail was, in turn, warmed by Will's proximity as he ducked around her and hyper aware of his deliberate touch. "I didn't realize you were equipped in smarts and sarcasm. It looks like you're trying to dethrone me," Will said, now returning her gaze as he offered a soft smile.

"Oh I don't think anyone could." She smiled to herself. His quiet banter was a natural go-to for Abigail too.

"Well, as long as my reputation isn't in any danger," Will quipped. Gnawing on the inside of his cheek, he added, "So is that a no to the beach? I promise I won't ask you to skip any more stones. All I require as payment is your company. As great as the dogs are, it's generally frowned upon if I bring all seven of them onto the sand. Not to mention, a disaster to clean them up afterwards."

"I didn't say no." Abigail tucked her hair behind her ear and looked at the box to see how long the desserts had to sit. Truthfully she was anxious about him being so persistent to spend time with her, given everything. Why was he bothering? She leaned on the counter. "Will they let you take me away again? The hospital?" She asked.

"I don't see why not. As long as I check you out in the appropriate amount of time, the personnel should approve of the date. As in, the time. They like protocol in that regard." Rubbing at the back of his neck, Will offered her a curious smile. "Do you like picnics? The downside is you get sand in your food - among other places - but it's all part of the charm. I suppose it's why I miss New Orleans, because it was much easier to get away during the weekend."

Abigail wondered if Will knew how he sounded, since his skittishness made it hard to tell. She was leery of all this talk, not wanting to be let down by yet another person. "Sounds nice." She said vaguely, aiming at nothing he said in particular.

"Since you did the oh-so-taxing job of thawing, I don't mind putting them in the oven," Will said. With an intentionally dramatic flourish, he deposited the brownies inside before closing the door. "Evidently, we both chose the wrong career paths."

She followed him back to the living room to sit down and wait, and was struck by an image of him as the boy he must have been back in Louisiana. Sun-kissed and in his shorts by the water. Had she really not thought about boys in so long that she was having dumb little fantasies now? Abigail mentally scolded herself for being such a…girl.

Will attempted to steer her away from his unmade bed. "I'm sorry for the random mattress, but sometimes I sleep in here, too. The couch is much more comfortable...for sitting." Moving toward the arm chair, Will eased into the cushions and anxiously flexed his hands. Entertaining the young woman was hard work, particularly now that he was so on edge. Winston’s yawn drew his attention. "Did you ever have a dog? I only ask because you seem quite good with them, but I didn't see any pets when we scoured your parents' home." He winced. Perhaps that was a sensitive subject. Hobbs had more than likely forbidden pets so he could keep Abigail's love all to himself.

Abigail eyed him for a moment before sitting heavily on the couch - he was doing it again and if she didn't think it so ridiculous she would have thought it deliberate. She thought fondly of the lovely black lab from her childhood and how devastated the ten-year-old her had been to lose him. "We had a dog when I was little, Rocky. I guess they had him since before I was born, but when he died we didn't get another one."

Will nodded, admittedly preoccupied. Perhaps Hobbs had feared he would hurt another animal, given his shift from does to real girls. Clasping his hands in his lap, he swallowed low in his throat, avoiding Abigail's eyes as they sat there in their respective seats. His small betrayal made him no better than Hobbs... By keeping the truth from her, he was yet another trusted figure taking advantage.

"Abigail, you need to know something..." Fearfully, he rubbed at his face before dropping his hands back into his lap. "Earlier, I...I saw you...and I know I should have told you, but I knew how it would appear." He prayed he wouldn't need to give further elaboration.

"Saw me do what?" Abigail frowned in confusion. She began to entertain horrible, panic-stricken thoughts about him knowing she killed Nick Boyle, knowing all that she had done, but then he had said 'earlier'. Her heart pounded as she waited for an answer.

The horror in Abigail's eyes made Will reel with both shame and apprehension, his lips pulling into a grimace as he realized that no, she didn't understand. How could she? It wasn't as if he'd painted a vivid picture of his indiscretion. "W-well..." Trailing off, he sighed. "I feel obligated to tell you that after something fell in the bathroom, I went to investigate. I just wanted...I-I mean, I needed to see that you were alright. But when I knocked, the door fell ajar..." Looking up at her earnestly, he promised, "I didn't see much and I didn't stay for long, but I wanted you to know, because I feel badly for the intrusion. Your private time is...it's important, especially now. You need to know that I would never intentionally infringe on that."

Abigail's eyes went wide as his words brought awful clarity. He saw her naked. He couldn't have seen much if she didn't notice him, she assured herself. He was clearing torturing himself about it, and she felt bad but still she was self-conscious. "Oh." She said, laughing nervously. "Well...ah...thanks for telling me I guess, but...I mean...i-it was an accident, right? Just forget about it." She couldn't quite meet his gaze talking about this. She hated that her biggest concern was what he thought about her body.

Abigail was handling it well, all things considered, and yet a part of Will had been hoping for more. He felt he deserved to have her yell and curse at him, but she'd given more of a "shit happens" response. Which was true. It had been an accident, but what followed after definitely hadn't been...

"Of course," Will lowly agreed. "I never would have...I-I mean, that's not to say that you aren't worthy of..." Floundering, his throat closed up around the words and he discreetly glanced toward his liquor cabinet. Evidently, he should have waited until now to offer her a drink. He didn't want to appear like an alcoholic who gravitated toward liquor any time his nerves were shot. Though, to be fair, he did.

Abigail was grateful that Buster chose then to jump insolently up beside her, giving her something to do to distract herself in coddling him. Will was embarrassed, and so was she, but this was not a situation she was used to. She fawned over the warm little dog, willing Will to fix the awkwardness before it drowned them both.

Before Will could offer any commentary, the oven went off and he immediately leapt to his feet. "I'll get that," he muttered, bustling off. The brownies were done, but he no longer felt like indulging in such a domestic activity as making desserts. So instead of making a fuss, he set out the whipped cream, chocolate syrup, and various other items he thought she might want before going back into the doorway.

"It's late," he said. "I, uh...I'm probably going to turn in soon, but I've got everything set up on the kitchen table. Do you need a nightlight or anything? I'd hate for you to bump into something."

Abigail couldn't help how her heart sank when Will jumped at the chance to get away. She automatically stood and came towards him when he told he was going to bed, no longer sparing a thought for the shower incident. "Will, really?" Her face crumpled. "But...you said I didn’t have to be alone."

When Abigail came toward him, Will's first instinct was to steel himself for a reproach. What followed made him falter, his heart clenching at the sight of her round, wounded eyes. He'd never meant to hurt her. If anything, he thought she might appreciate the chance to be alone without his nagging, ever-present need to hover. Glancing toward the clock on the wall, he chewed his lip before nodding. "I... Alright, but just for a little while. I have a bit of casework I need to do in the morning." Attempting to steer Abigail toward the table, he had a seat in front of one of the empty plates. "Guest chooses which slab they want first, of course."

Abigail heard his bullshit about getting up early but still smiled triumphantly. "This one." She pointed at it, making her best fake-cute face at him.

"Excellent choice. I was afraid you'd choose my piece," Will deflected, a bit of his humor and good nature returning. After placing the cake onto Abigail's plate, he grabbed his own, despite not truly being hungry, and decided against any toppings.

Abigail bundled whipped cream onto a plate and watched him, trying hard not to smirk. She somehow resisted the urge to stick her finger in the chocolate and wipe it across his cheek. Why did she feel so familiar with him?

Deciding to at least try and salvage the situation, Will asked, "So, do you plan on applying for school? Just because your father ruined your chances for this semester, that doesn't mean you can't try again. If it's something that interests you, you could sit in on one of my lectures to see what it's like. Dr. Lecter mentioned that you talked about joining the FBI." At this point, it was unlikely that they would take her, but Will, and possibly even Alana, would damn well vouch for her if that was what she wanted.

Abigail ate some of the chocolate mess and thought about it. "Yeah, I will...maybe I'll wait until next fall though." She wasn't sure she could face any of that while her name was in the papers. "Sure I could come to your class, see if I'd like it. Right now I’m starting to think the FBI wouldn’t be a good way to go, but it would still be interesting."

"That's probably a good idea. I know it may not feel like it, but people will forget about your father. Other terrible people will come along, and their attentions will be swayed. You'll be able to live normally soon enough," Will promised. Nodding, he looked away. "I'm not so sure that you'd exactly like my class, but you could at the very least see what the environment’s like. I'm kind of known as a hard-ass and my style is to lecture, so that lack of engagement is often tedious to some." Finally, he forced himself to eat a few bites of dessert, if only to appear cooperative. "You can come whenever you'd like. I don't need the board's permission for a sit-in, so just text me whenever you're ready."

Abigail nodded, actually kind of looking forward to it. "I can imagine you lecturing people to sleep but a hard-ass?" She twisted her lips at him, finding it hard to believe. With her eyes dancing she licked chocolate off her spoon.

"Oh, so you think I'm boring, do you? I suppose I've heard worse...like my inability to carry on a conversation that doesn't entail crime scene analysis." Rolling his eyes slightly, Will glanced at Abigail as she wrapped her lips around her spoon. "Uh...then again, I suppose I've been proving them right." What should be considered normal was currently distracting him, and though he didn't believe that Abigail was intentionally baiting him, he couldn't help but wonder, given his earlier confession. With his cheeks slightly flushed, he took a sip of his milk, wishing that it were something stronger. "I'm not such a terrible cook, you know," he feebly added. "I only chose frozen food for convenience. I didn't have time to shop before your visit."

He always felt the need to explain himself with her. It was as if he feared the slightest rebuff might put a wrench in their tentative bond.

"I don't think you're boring, Will." She said honestly. He seemed so on edge, like he was trying to impress her or something. "Well my dad did most of the cooking and I guess I used to think that was good..." She couldn't bring herself to say 'before I knew what he fed us' but really anything was better than that.

"Well, give it time. I'm sure you'll change your mind," Will said quietly. Glancing at the clock on the wall again, he sighed. "Now that we've had our fill of tooth-rotting, sugary confection, I suppose it would be wise to get some rest. Take Buster for the evening so you have some company."

Abigail shook her head at his persistent self-deprecation. She knew that feeling. Though the other dogs were already dozing by the fire, Buster seemed to know he was getting to go upstairs, and pattered impatiently around their feet at the sound of his name. "Well I'm sure I'd love that." She smiled down at the eager animal.

Rising from his seat, Will disposed of their plates before turning back to her. "Goodnight, Abigail." With unmistakable fondness, he leaned over and pressed a kiss to her forehead, his hand holding loosely around the back of her neck. "If you don't need me any longer, I suppose I'll see you in the morning."

Will's gentle touch and lips on her head were chaste enough but stirred her in a way she wasn't expecting. "Goodnight, Will." She said and drifted upstairs.

Will lingered a moment at the foot of the stairs, then followed up after her before entering his room. After peeling off his plaid shirt and jeans, he sat heavily upon the edge of the bed. He still felt odd and uncomfortable with his mistake. Guiltily, he uncapped his whiskey on the nightstand. As he took a generous swallow, he listened for telltale signs of Abigail relaxing and getting settled for the night. He could only hear Buster give an excited yip, but soon all was still and Will sat back in bed, picking up a book to try and calm his racing mind.

Meanwhile, Abigail took off her sweatpants and got into the bed in panties and a t-shirt. Buster barked to get up on the bed and she relented. She hadn't brought any of her books and they still had her phone locked away at the hospital. She needed to do something. She petted the dog for a bit but he eventually got restless and wanted to sleep, so he hopped back down to curl up on the rug. Abigail shivered a little and curled tighter under the duvet, sliding her cold hand between her thighs to warm it.

Will saw her naked. She remembered their shared embarrassment with a lurch, and his stumbling to basically tell her he liked what he saw. Will Graham thought she looked good, or at least felt the need to tell her so. She wriggled a bit, toying with the thought. Pleased by it. She hadn't exactly missed how good looking he was, but there was no way... She thought about the day and how so many times it felt like something crackled between them. Abigail figured she must be more messed up than she feared if she believed that.

Abigail could still feel his hand on her neck if she tried hard enough...he touched her a lot. She squirmed, pressing her legs tighter together...she couldn't, not here, could she? It was certainly something to do. She slowly rubbed the edge of her hand higher, grazing herself through the fabric, and had to stifle a sound. Yep, this was happening, and the danger of his presence only seemed to be making her more worked up...

Rubbing at his face, Will grimaced as his head whirred with a pending headache. He wouldn't call himself stressed, but in between trying to handle Abigail and his indiscretion, he wasn't truly surprised by the dull throb behind his eyes. Squeezing the bridge of his nose, he tossed his book aside and irritably swung his legs over the bed. If nothing else, he could take a walk around the property. Sometimes he did that if he was unable to sleep.

Quietly opening his bedroom door, Will crept across the wooden floorboards, careful with his movements lest he wake Abigail. Though once he walked by her door, he heard a soft sound that caused him to freeze in his tracks. Brow scrunching in bewilderment, he recalled the trouble he'd gotten into the last time he'd been concerned for her, and quickly decided to resume his path. Or rather, he had until the flooring gave an agonizing creak.

He froze. Heart pounding in his ears, he listened to the deathly silence that greeted him. Perhaps he had imagined everything?

Abigail slid her hand into her panties and ran her fingers softly over her wet folds. The tension was building all day and she needed some release from it, even just to help her sleep. She thought about Will watching her in the shower and wondered what he would think if he saw her like this. Scandalised probably, if today was anything to go by, but what if he wasn't? If he moved his easy touch elsewhere. If this was his hand rubbing her clit right now. She accidentally let out a sound at this and froze. The floor creaked and her eyes flew open. When nothing happened save for claws on wood, she put it down to a dog wandering around and began to stroke herself again, conjuring up Will's voice in her head.

The air was deathly still. So much so that if Will angled in toward the door, he could hear Abigail’s soft, labored breathing. Was she alright? Was she having a nightmare? Torn over whether or not he should intervene, his hand lingered over the doorknob, then fell to his side as Winston eagerly trotted his way. Will gestured for him to be quiet (which the dog naturally did not understand) and he grimaced as Winston nosed his thigh. He doubted that Abigail had heard him, but the skittering of nails against flooring was unmistakable. He hoped she wouldn't open the door. That was an explanation he wasn't yet ready to give.

Abigail worked herself steadily towards climax, not interested in dragging it out. She writhed under her own hand, the other one trailing over her tight nipples, kicking the covers off her legs as she got warmer and more undone. She tried to be quiet as her orgasm built, but she figured Will wouldn't hear the tiny sounds that slipped out anyway through two doors and a hallway. The thought of Will again only pushed her closer. She pictured him being the one to make her come and only moments later she tensed and shuddered as she did exactly that, biting her lip to stifle her moans.

The soft, muffled gasp that followed was unmistakable. Will might have been out of touch with the opposite sex, but he certainly could remember the sound of release. Pulse thrumming in his temples, he recalled Abigail's long, soapy fingers trailing along the curve of her body and he drew a sharp breath. Wrong. This was so wrong. He had no business hearing Abigail at her most vulnerable, and least especially when she had no idea he was even there. Even so, his empathetic nature drew up a vivid picture of her parted, gasping lips, shaking thighs, and flushed breasts as she arched into her pillow. Fuck.

Agitated, Will broke away from the door and went rushing downstairs, his feet taking the steps two at a time until he was at the entryway. Bursting out the front door, he exited onto the porch with several panicked, shallow breaths. Beneath the cloth of his boxers, he could feel an all-too familiar ache begin to throb. Fuckfuckfuckshit. Rather than indulge in his carnality, he laced his fingers behind his head and began to walk, pacing through the grass as the evening chill helped sooth his high temperature. When he had finally managed to calm his “problem,” he re-entered the house and returned to his room on jittery legs.

Abigail lay for a moment, sated and breathing hard, before curling up in the covers to sleep. She had heard what could only be Will running downstairs, and for a moment, she had found herself panicked. When the front door had opened she figured sleepily it must be something with the dogs wanting out, and simply drifted into a deep sleep.

Chapter Text

Will didn't speak about it the next morning. In fact, he couldn't even look at Abigail as they ate breakfast. If she happened to catch his attention, his cheeks would go pink and he'd immediately look away. Avoidance was a common tactic in his arsenal, but in this instance he almost felt guilty, because this was Abigail. He never, ever wanted to hurt her.

 

"I'm going to read," Will said hoarsely. "If you'd like to join me, you’re more than welcome, or there's a TV in the cabinet."

 

Will had reverted to being strange and off with her. Abigail was starting to wonder what had really been wrong with him last night. When he clearly wanted to be alone, again, that morning, the niceness of the previous day felt like a dream. It made her mad. "Fine." She said and instead of putting the TV on, she went to sit on the porch.

 

Abigail's snappish reply was unsurprising, but frustrated Will. Instead of heading to the living room as he'd claimed, he followed her out onto the porch, expression tight and accusatory. "Why are you here, Abigail?" he demanded. "I was admittedly delighted that you wanted to spend the weekend with me, but now I'm starting to think you have ulterior motives in mind. And if they're what I suspect, they're entirely inappropriate. It's not funny to engage me in this way, least especially when you know how fond I am of you."

 

Abigail didn't know if she was hurt or furious. She glared up at him from where she sat on the step. "You asked me to come here." She challenged. "And I don't know what you're talking about, but if that's how you feel, maybe you should just take me back now." She turned her face down to her knees, refusing to beg. She always suspected Will avoided her to avoid seeing the image of her Dad, but now she had to admit she really didn't get what his issue was.

 

Will pressed his lips together, his pinched brow softening as he looked out over the horizon. "I don't want to file you away like some bad memory, Abigail," he said softly. "But when certain things start occurring one after another, it's difficult to believe that it's a coincidence...that you aren't toying with me on purpose."

 

Rubbing at the side of his face, he drew a breath. "I know you're young and full of…feelings, but if you're intentionally making me subject me to your budding sexuality, I can guarantee that this won't end well. For either of us." Finally looking down at her, Will weakly added, “If my assumptions about your intent are incorrect, then I apologize. I haven't been myself as of late, so it wouldn't be far off the mark if I were misguided in my judgment."

 

Abigail's eyes snapped back up to him, dumbfounded. "Will what the hell?" She could not for the life of her piece together why he was accusing her of that. "Just because you saw me in the shower?! Don't you think you're overreacting?" She said, raising her voice.

 

Will tensed his hands by his sides. "Normally yes, I would agree that I was overreacting, but...my house is old, Abigail, and that means having uncomfortably thin walls." He glanced at her then, caught her gaze for a moment, then immediately looked away. His face colored. "I didn't mean to pry... I promise you, Abigail, your privacy is very important to me, but...I thought you were having a nightmare, and I nearly walked in to help..."

 

Shoving his hands into his pockets, he exhaled and scuffed his shoe along the porch floorboards. "It's been...a lot to digest. And almost all I've been able to think about, quite frankly."

 

A lot to digest? Yes it was. Her sharp mind caught on rapidly to all of what he was saying - that he had heard her last night. Abigail didn't know if she was more offended that he was accusing her of doing it all just to mess with him, or his assertion that there could be nothing between them. Not that she wanted that. She didn't think so anyway...after all, she had been thinking of him to fuel her fantasies.

 

Abigail sat for a long moment, unsure whether she wanted to burst into tears or slap him. "Whatever you think I'm doing, I'm not. I had no idea you were snooping...again." She said quietly, too calm.

 

Abigail's response made him reel with shame. What if she thought he'd been the one to do all of this on purpose? Promptly kneeling down alongside her, Will reached for her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. "I didn't intend to snoop," he promised, "and I apologize for trying to imply that you were taking advantage of my affections. I feared I was wearing my heart on my sleeve...that you could easily sense that you're always in my thoughts." Perhaps not sexually, but his dreams and nightmares were now beginning to warp. Last night, he had dreamed that she was a pale corpse, slashed throat and dull eyes, and as he'd dug his fingers into her gushing wound, she had kissed him. He shivered at the memory.

 

"I'm sorry," Will weakly apologized. "I hope you can forgive me...I want nothing more than for us to be close and able to heal. I'm not very good at letting people in, so I hope you can be patient with me."

 

Abigail felt his hand on hers melting away her stubbornness, despite her anger. She looked up at him, listening as he spoke and nodding. She couldn't claim to understand all of his issues, but she couldn't help how she was drawn to him either.

 

"No, I couldn't tell." She said softly, mind racing. What thoughts did he have of her? Ones like she had of him? Surely not. He just wanted to take care of her, that's what he was saying. He probably felt sorry for her. "It's ok." She finally exhaled. "I'm not the best at that either."

 

Feeling a hint of relief, Will relaxed and sank down alongside her onto the porch step, sliding an arm around her waist and gently pulling her in to rest against his flank. "I'm still the one responsible," he said, "and therefore, I should've handled this better. At your age...well...any age, it's perfectly natural to want to explore your body and various forms of pleasure. It was wrong of me to demonize your exploration and to act as if there's something wrong with you. There isn't."

 

Pausing, he added, "I don't want you to feel like you can't come to me with your problems. I'll admit it all came to me as a shock, but now that I've had time to process everything, I just want you to feel like you can tell me anything that's on your mind." Though a part of him naturally prayed that she wouldn't.

 

Abigail was momentarily stunned and then couldn't help but choke back a laugh, burying her face in her hands. "Will!" She whined at him, mortified. "Stop, you really don't have to give me this talk, I'm not that oblivious." She looked at him and flushed, she wasn't laughing at him, just awkward about his fumbling and the topic of conversation.

 

Mortified, Will laced his hands together and looked out over the horizon, cheek twitching as he struggled to come up with a decent response. "I didn't mean to imply you were a child, I just...didn't expect you to be very knowledgeable, given your upbringing. But then...I suppose that you fought against your father's overprotectiveness as much as you could. I wasn't necessarily offering to be a mentor, I just...I want you to feel like this is a safe place for you. That you won't be judged for anything that you feel or think or desire."

 

Holding her hand loosely in his grasp, he fondly brushed his thumb along her knuckles and squeezed her fingers. Or at least, he did until he remembered just where her hand had been. Flustered, he returned his own hand to his lap and exhaled. "I didn't have that growing up," he admitted. "As in, I didn't have anyone to talk to... My dad was a wonderful man, but he would rather put an ice pick through his own ear drums than acknowledge I was human in...in that regard. And I feel that's rubbed off on me in many ways."

 

"I'm not knowledgeable, I just...well, I'm not...like... ashamed of what I did, just embarrassed that you heard me." She said shyly, still feeling his hand on hers and not looking at those searching blue eyes to make it easier to talk about this. "I appreciate it. My dad was the same, of course, but my mom wasn't really." She got distracted for a moment by him touching her and talking of her 'desires'. Abigail wondered if he would be saying this if knew what her latest one had been.

 

Unbidden, a pang of relief filled him, and Will was repulsed by the gut reaction. What right did he have to feel that way? Was he grateful that she could still remain pure in his eyes, or because a sick, depraved part of him had entwined them together, making her his?

"You should never rush into that," he softly told her. "When the right person comes along, you'll know. And if in turn they're right for you, they'll be willing to wait for as long as you need." Hesitantly moving his hand to the small of her back, he gently rubbed along the curve of her spine.

 

"Don't be embarrassed," he pleaded. "I know I reacted poorly, but...there are some things we can't quite fathom others doing, and you took me by surprise." He continued to rub his palm into her back, dipping his fingers beneath the fabric as he looked out over the horizon. He recalled Alana Bloom's hybrid, and guiltily, he wondered if the doctor would be coming out to check on Abigail's progress. He had noticed a voicemail on his phone that morning, but had been far too upset to check the message to see if it had been anything pressing.

 

Abigail nodded knowingly in response to his advice, essentially acknowledging his assumption. She sort of stopped listening as his hand found the skin of her back where her shirt pulled up. She only just stopped herself making a sound, his touch gentle but sure. Oh god, what was he saying? That he hadn't thought of her as sexual and now he could? Jesus. Could she fathom him masturbating? She took a deep, careful breath, fearing the answer was a resounding ‘yes’.

 

She realised she hadn't said a word back to him. "I guess." She managed, at a loss while his hand was still on her.

 

"What about what I said is uncertain to you?" he asked. Her skin was soft and smooth beneath his fingertips, and Will felt guilt over how he marveled at her. She contrasted starkly against his callouses, each finger battered from years of hard work and labor. He wasn't meant to touch perfect, uncharted beauty such as this. The realization of just how uncharted she was settled heavily in the pit of his stomach.

 

"Nothing, I was...agreeing about...seeing people certain ways." Abigail was inexperienced, but /surely/ his insistent stroking of her spine wasn't just friendly. Maybe she was still asleep and having a sex dream about him. Honestly if anyone else was asking her these things and insinuating their way under her shirt, it would creep her out. Somehow, with Will, it was all she could do to just hope he couldn't hear how her pulse raced…

 

"Have you at least had a boyfriend?" Will asked. Trailing his fingers further along her spine, he felt warmed both by the sun and the supple skin beneath his palm. Unlike his dream, she was alive and warm to the touch, not cold and kissed by death. He swallowed low in his throat. "I only ask because..." Well, he didn't know why he was asking, truth be told, nor why it would be important to her growth.

 

His voice was affecting Abigail in ways she was certainly not used to. This was not turning out like she thought today would. "I've...been on dates...kissed a few boys. Dad didn't know about most of them, and didn’t like the one he met. None of them were really boyfriends."

 

Will's touch grew more reverent, a single finger gliding up her spine until he brushed against the clasp of her bra. He froze up a moment, uncertain in his approach, before grazing his thumb along the silken fabric. He masked his curiosity by pushing and kneading at her skin in a faux massage, careful to move away from her undergarment.

 

"I'm surprised," he lowly admitted. "You're so...you're quite beautiful." He felt dirty and disgusting with his hand beneath her shirt, stroking as he fawned over her doe-eyed beauty. He didn't know what was the matter with him. He didn't know what had changed, nor why Hannibal's persistence that she was a daughter had never quite resonated with him. He'd latched onto the excuse, absolutely – he'd wanted it to be true – but the past 24 hours had proven to him how far from the truth it actually was. He didn't feel fit to care for Abigail in that way. Not anymore.

 

"I-I guess there wasn't...enough there for any proper relationships." She answered shakily. Abigail feared her heart might stutter to a halt altogether as he seemed for a split second like he might start undressing her. She didn’t dare mention it in case he stopped, frankly. They were in a fragile bubble where Will Graham was inexplicably telling her she was beautiful and the tension was thick as syrup.

 

"In rare instances, there are," Will softly assured her. "Boys your age don't quite yet know what they want, so they'll likely be reckless and all over the place until their mid-twenties. Hopefully you can avoid that frustration." The reminder of Abigail's youth caused his hand to abruptly stop stroking, his fingers guiltily sliding out of her shirt. "Perhaps we should go back inside?" he softly suggested. It was getting too warm for him in their present situation.

 

Abigail was relieved when he snapped them out of it, though now she was nervous about what he might be suggesting. "I might stay out here and go for that swim, but come if you want." She liked that heat and she didn't really think properly about how that might be worse rather than better.

 

"Did you bring a swimsuit?" Will asked. "I can't recall if I promised you a t-shirt and shorts...though admittedly, I'm not so sure my pants would stay on your hips." With pink still tinging the tips of his ears, he rose and held out a hand to help her up. "I don't think I'm up for a swim, but I can't just let you go out there all by yourself. I'm sure you can swim, but...well...you mentioned not going to the beach much and I'd rather be there for you just in case."

 

Abigail quickly thought about what panties she had on, more like shorts than anything 'sexy'. "That's ok." She smiled. "Just...gimme a shirt, please." She said and followed him inside, lurking nervously by the couch for him to get it.

 

"Are you sure? Because you could always see if it fit..." Trailing off, he caught the uncomfortable look Abigail was giving him and instantly felt guilty. Why did he think any of his earlier behavior was okay? She was just too polite, perhaps even scared to tell him otherwise. Stomach churning, Will took the stairs two at a time before rummaging in his room for a shirt that would appropriately cover her. Most of his t-shirts were threadbare and covered in grease and oil, though he managed to find a light grey one that wasn't too flimsy, and returned to her with a sheepish smile.

 

"I'll go down to the pond," he said, "and you can change in here. I'll bring out some towels and maybe a cooler, if you'd like. I'd offer to bring some fishing poles too, but somehow I have a feeling you're not quite as interested in fishing as I am."

 

Abigail could see he was anxious and hurrying off again. Funny, but it seemed like he was more together when he was touching her. The idea made her mind wander to what he might be like if they...

 

"Thanks." She cut herself off before she even entertained that thought. When Will was far enough away, she yanked off her pants and top and pulled his loose shirt over her instead. It was soft but with it being so long, it was definitely a struggle to be able to tell that she wasn't actually naked under it. Oh well, she wasn't, so it'd be fine. She strolled down to the water where Will was thankfully sitting with his back to her, and sat down beside him, feeling the sun on her bare legs. "Hey."

 

Will had been biding his time with a book, not anticipating how long Abigail might take, so he gave a slight jolt when she sat down alongside him. "Oh...that was quick," he said. Setting his book off to the side, he flashed her a smile that quickly faltered. She was sitting with her legs pulled in toward her chest, and with the sun warming her pale skin and the light dusting her freckles, her positioning allowed him to see far more than what was appropriate. Abruptly looking away, Will dug his blunt nails into his upper arms, attempting to ground himself as he looked out over the water.

 

"I have a towel for you," he said. "It's kind of funny, because I've lived here for years and yet I've never actually used the pond for swimming. I only fish and walk the dogs around it. They enjoy splashing through the shallow ends." He glanced her way. "I suppose today's as good a day as any to start."

 

Abigail glanced back at him before looking away, he seemed to still be struggling. "Well it was your idea." She reminded him playfully and unfolded her legs to let them dangle in the cool water. It wasn't so cold that it would be unpleasant so after a few moments, she slid right into it.

 

Will watched her wade into the water, at the ready in case she needed his assistance. "Don't be alarmed if you feel any fish graze you," he warned. "It's not uncommon this time of year."

 

The water came up to her chest after a few steps and Abigail turned around to face Will, squinting at him in the bright sun. "It's actually really nice, especially when it's hot like today..."

 

Will chuckled, holding his hands up in surrender. "Was that your not so subtle way of trying to convince me to come in? You drive a hard bargain, but you also make it difficult to say no..." Rising with a hint of apprehension, Will glanced back toward the house, yet again making sure no one had stopped by for a surprise visit, before finally wading his way into the shallows. Unlike Abigail, the water only came up to his waist. "Is this the part where you surprise me and prove to be an expert swimmer?"

 

Abigail was pleased that Will seemed to be relaxing again, and that he joined her. She floated onto her back a little beside him. "There's this thing called a swimming pool, so I did actually learn to swim." She mocked him gently.

 

Will snorted. "Admittedly, I rarely indulged in swimming pools. Do you have any idea how much urine and fecal matter are in those? The ocean is far more vast, so those type of leavings become far more diluted." Inwardly, he winced. He'd often been teased for his lack of positive commentary. Watching Abigail float alongside him, Will allowed himself to sink down further into the dark stillness of the pond.

 

Abigail threw her head back. "They're full of cleaning chemicals too, and besides, plenty of things are dirtier than you think. Money and cell phones apparently." She followed close to Will as he moved into the pond.

 

Will had to laugh, surprised by Abigail's admission. "Evidently, I'm not the only subscriber of 'Germ's Digest.' Which isn't a real magazine, by the way. But yes, I'm fully aware about cell phones and money...there are often traces of cocaine on dollar bills. Sometimes, it's better not to think about what you're touching. I'm assuming there aren't any pools at Port Haven?" Smooth segue. "Speaking of which, I imagine you want to return soon...I'd hate to detract from your therapy." Will looked at her.

 

When he mentioned going back, it hit Abigail that she had to sometime. At this lovely, remote little house getting to know Will, she had almost forgotten real life. "Therapy is sucking the life out of me, and if I never went back it'd be fine by me." She scowled.

 

Smile fading, Will listened to Abigail bemoan the hospital's unpleasantries. He knew he couldn't blame her. He, himself very much hated hospitals, and would be happy if he never had to enter another one in his lifetime. "Is it really so bad?" he asked. "Don't you feel like you have anyone to talk to?"

 

"It's not that, not really." Abigail lazily half swam, half floated around him.

 

"I just...I don't feel like the victim they treat me as. The one they expect me to be." She always tried so hard to seem strong and unperturbed by being orphaned, and made no mention of the fact that although she just wanted to go home, she had no real home to go to.

 

"Then what do you feel like?" Will asked, craning his head to watch her lazily swirl around him. "Unfortunately, there will always be people who think they know how you should behave, and then when you don't match up to that expectation, they get suspicious or judgmental." He instantly thought of Jack Crawford, but didn't wish to bring him up now.

 

Abigail dipped her hair back to wet it fully and pushed it back. "I feel like...like my dad killed people because of me. I feel guilt rather than hurt." She finally said. This was close to full honesty and she took herself by surprise at how she opened up to him.

 

Her chest lifted, and Will caught sight of her slender outline, clothed nipples enhanced by the wet chill of the water. Flustered, he averted his eyes and moved alongside her. He took in a slow, apprehensive breath. "Your father was...conflicted," he hesitantly allowed. "He loved you more than anything, which is why he felt compelled to take the lives of substitutes. Though the closer you got to leaving him, the more he panicked. And it's not your fault – none of it is. No one can be held responsible for the monstrous acts people perform on the behalf of others."

 

Abigail was so touched by his reassurance and his kindness she could have hugged him, but she didn't. She didn't think he would have reacted well to that considering his intermittent twitchiness. She beamed at him instead. "Thank you." She said honestly. "For everything." She was suddenly serious, her expression an attempt to convey how grateful she was.

 

Will could feel the shift in Abigail's demeanor, but was unsure of what he'd said to garner such a reaction. "You're welcome," he softly said, averting his eyes toward the water. Sentiment often left him bewildered and uncertain. Shivering as a gentle breeze blew over the surface, Will sighed before reclining onto his back, now gazing up at the robin's-egg-blue sky. "I suppose you don't have to go back today," he offered. "It may not be the most wise to stay here, but if you truly feel uncomfortable, it might be just as detrimental if you return to the hospital."

 

She couldn't help how happy she was at the suggestion that she stay again, though last night's events nagged at her. "Could I?" She asked, swimming right up to his side.

 

It was probably against his better judgment, but Will nodded, granting her silent permission. "Of course," he said. "You're always welcome to come here. The guest bedroom is already prepared, so everything's already taken care of. I should probably go back inside though, just so I can give the hospital a call to let them know the situation. You're welcome to stay in, but I'd rather you didn't."

 

Reaching out as if he might give her a helping hand, Will thought better of it and began wading toward the grassy embankment. He needed to text Alana back as well. "Depending on your schedule and my own, I may be able to house you for a little while longer."

 

*

 

With all of the arrangements in order, Abigail had been granted another day from returning to the hospital. Will was both pleased and unsettled by the fact she wanted to spend more time with him. He couldn't imagine why she preferred his company, given what he had done, but he also felt largely pleased by her sentiment. Alana had warned him that he couldn't be Abigail's everyone, but he, too was quite lonely, and in turn found himself projecting onto that desire for connection.

 

After saying goodnight to Abigail, Will headed into his room and knocked back his whiskey before bed. By now, it was tradition to imbibe. He rarely got any sleep without it. Curling up beneath his covers, Will curled his legs in toward his chest and released an even exhale, recalling Abigail's bright, cornflower blue eyes and sunny smile as he had granted her request. Selfishly, he realized that he wanted to be the only one to receive that smile. Her affection and approval was now the most important thing that he strove for.

 

Abigail had gone to bed tired that night and fallen asleep quickly this time. All the earlier tension building up, or seemingly building up, had dispersed over their pleasant day and evening together...

 

Drowning. She was drowning. An unseen hand, though she knew it was her father's, held her as she struggled and fought to breach the surface. Just as she knew for certain that she was going to die there, she woke with a huge jolt and gasping for air. It took a moment for Abigail to adjust to the unfamiliar ceiling. Will. His house. That's where she was. She panted hard, frozen with residual fear in the position she woke up in, until she finally got the courage to get up...

 

About a half an hour had passed, and Will stripped his shirt off in overheated frustration. It was often too hot for him upstairs, and the evidence was his flushed skin irritated by his bedding. Tossing his shirt onto the floor in a crumpled heap, he rolled back over and nudged his cheek into the coolness of his pillow. That was when he heard a noise.

 

Raising his head, Will squinted through the dark through the doorway, but couldn't yet see anything of true substance. "Abigail?" he asked, his voice hoarse from the fog of half-sleep.

Chapter Text

Abigail pushed open Will's slightly cracked door but couldn't bring herself to wake him. She must have disturbed him anyway as he groggily called her name. "I...I had another nightmare." She said softly, annoyed at how childlike she sounded.

Immediately alerted by her tone, Will sat up and flicked on his bedside lamp, illuminating the room with a sickly yellow glow. Abigail stood there wall-eyed and small, hunkering in the doorway and he instantly forgot his own reservations. "You're safe here," he promised. "Whatever it was, it was just a dream..." Turning to flick on the small, portable fan at his bedside, Will pulled back his covers so that he could sit upright more fully. He still felt warm and uncomfortable.

"Did you want to talk about it?" Gesturing to her, Will moved over and patted the spot beside him, indicating that she should come and have a seat. "Sometimes it feels better to admit what's troubling you."

Abigail went to him slowly, not sure if this was ok or not but too anxious to care. She curled one leg under her on the bed and left the other dangling on the floor. Her fingers fiddled with each other as she tried to recall the details. "I think my dad was trying to kill me. Drown me." She muttered with a haunted look towards the window and the water of the pond beyond.

Will's eyes followed hers with concern, his body shifting to make room for her as she had a seat alongside him. Abigail seemed so sad in that moment, her freckled brow pinched as she shivered alongside him. "Your father's gone," Will gently soothed. Sliding an arm around her waist, he carefully curled her into his side and rubbed his palm along her neck and shoulders. Her right leg dangled over the bed, causing more of her body weight to lean into his flank. Guilt-stricken by the distraction, he pressed a kiss to her freshly shampooed hair and coaxed her into lying down, gentle in his movements as he pulled the sheets up to her chin.

"You can stay here with me," he assured her. "We're supposed to help one another heal, so I see no issue in doing that." Lying down alongside her, Will nudged his cheek back into his pillow and draped an arm around her waist. It occurred to him then how inappropriate this was – how unwise it was, given their past indiscretions – but in that moment, all he knew was Abigail needed him. She was lost and terrified, and he'd be damned if he let a bit of discomfort get in the way of that.

When Will gradually maneuvered her down to lay cuddled up with him, it didn't even occur to her to object. She drew herself even closer, burying her face against him and finally realising his bare skin was what her cheek rubbed against. He was warms and smelled good. Distinctly but not overwhelmingly masculine, in a way she found she liked but wasn’t used to. Just as she wasn't used to being twined around a half-naked man in his bed.

Edging his arms around her in a careful, secure embrace, Will pulled her in close until her flushed cheek pressed against his chest. He tucked her face into his throat and began to rub his hands along her back. The fabric of her shirt lifted slightly, and he was stricken by the sensation of her bare legs tangling with his own. He hitched a breath. Attempting to keep his hips away from hers, he managed to choke out, "We can talk about something else – anything else that might serve as a distraction...whatever you want. And if you don't wish to talk about yourself, you can ask me questions about my life instead. Just...whatever you need, Abigail."

Her desire for comfort and the security she felt in his arms made it all ok, and a tiny part of her felt like she could stay here forever. "I can't think...you pick something." She said in a small voice, just enjoying the sound of his voice filling her head. Finally feeling the panic start to leave her.

"Alright," Will soothed, brushing his lips against her forehead. "When I was your age, I broke my arm falling out of a tree. I'd like to tell you that it was because of some rambunctious, entirely macho adventure, but I was just reading and dozed off...then fell onto the hard forest floor. Whoever says reading isn't dangerous has never read in a tree."

He smiled at the memory, now sweeping Abigail's hair over her shoulder. Gently threading his fingers through her dark locks, he rubbed his free hand along the small of her back, forcing her lower body into his own with each firm, metronome-like push of his palm. Her warmth coupled with the warmth of the booze was beginning to make Will drowsy, and he gave an appreciative murmur as he pressed his face onto her crown. "Have you ever broken a bone?"

Abigail let him soothe her like a baby, his voice even and full of care, while his touch spread warmth through her. "Broke my toe tripping over the mess in my room. Mom tried so hard to be mad at me." She mumbled with a tiny smile.

Will couldn't help but smirk. "You broke your toe because of your messy room? Well, I suppose you win this round of 'Most Embarrassing Stories.' Not that I'm in any hurry to reclaim the crown..."

Hesitant in his movements, Will drifted his hands down to rub along the backs of her soft, silken thighs, all the while assuring himself that it was merely to loosen up her tense posture. His pulse quickened and he dipped his fingers beneath the hem of her shirt – his shirt – only to realize that she was wearing nothing more than a pair of cotton panties. He retreated then, attempting to save face as he slid his hands back up to cup and knead at her lower back. He just wanted to make her feel good again. No matter how or in what way, he just wanted to see her smile and look at him with appreciation like before.

"Should I keep going?" he lowly asked. "As in...would you like another story?"

His hands had tickled at first, then relaxed her, and she drew her knee up between his to get more comfortable. Pressed against the full length of him now, she had the distinct sensation of...something else coursing through her. Abigail nodded against him. "Mmhmm."

Pressing a kiss beneath her ear, he allowed Abigail to nudge in closer. When she lifted her knee to get comfortable, Will's breath caught and he released a low, soft little groan into her ear, his hands grasping her shirt as a dull, all too familiar ache began to pulse against the thin cloth of his boxers.

Fuck.

It was only natural, wasn't it? It had been a considerable time since he'd been with anyone, and being close to Abigail had merely conjured up those old sensations and desires. He thought – no, he knew that had to be it, because no other option made sense to his addled, racing mind. Shifting against her, Will racked his brain for a new story – preferably one that served as a distraction to himself – and tilted his hips away from the gentle press of her pelvis.

Abigail came back to herself just a fraction when he kissed her, but again she put it down to heedless affection, as one would kiss a little kid. When he made that noise and grasped her closer, she could feel what could only be his dick against her thigh. She panicked for a second before it dawned on her that as nervous as it made her, his hands and his body on her was turning her on too. Was this a bad idea? It didn't feel like it.

"When I was a beat cop, I once got a kid to turn himself in in exchange for a dirty magazine. I didn't own it, mind you, but we had so many in the patrol car just from confiscations. The theft of that stuff from teenage boys was unbelievable," Will said and Abigail was grateful for the new subject. Not a safe one, though...

She swallowed. "I don't think I've ever seen a dirty magazine...how vintage." She teased and tried to ignore the tingling in her lower body.

"Vintage?" A chuckle caught low in his throat, and Will traced his fingers along the hem of her shirt, considering this. "I suppose everything is online these days, isn't it? Though it's not quite the same as holding it in your hand and being able to...well...I'll just leave that to your imagination."

As before, Will found himself gliding his hands beneath Abigail's shirt, though this time he tentatively curled his fingers around her bottom. His breath grew soft and ragged as he pushed, squeezed, and rolled his palms along her supple skin, his eyes lifting to her face as he toyed with the cotton trim of her panties.

"Tell me something, Abigail," he whispered. His tone had taken on a darker timbre, and his forehead edged into hers as he stroked and rubbed at her skin. "When you touched yourself last night, were you loud on purpose? Did you want me to hear you?" His body thrummed like a livewire, and he slid his palms upward so that her shirt lifted with the movement. The whir of his portable fan filled his head and made him feel akin to buzzing static, his chest lifting with low, fitful breaths as he struggled to comprehend his sudden train of thought.

Abigail listened to him say things she had never thought she would hear him say in a million years. All the while his touch grew bolder and less innocent. She wasn't imagining it, and she wasn't imagining the growing need in her own body. It made her mind scattered. What did he used to like in a dirty magazine? What did he like in a woman? Did he really find her attractive or was he just being kind? She would be such a disappointment to him, she knew it.

On the other hand, was he just like the men who her parents warned only wanted sex? Was this just a ruse to make her talk? She met his eyes in the half light, to see if the answers were there, but he wanted one of his own. She shook her head gently. "No." She said, barely a whisper but it was honest. "I tried to stay quiet."

The hesitancy in Abigail's eyes made Will falter. It occurred to him then that he was probably imagining all of the prior tension between them. Imagining it because he was depraved and in need of contact that could not be achieved in this way.

"Of course you didn't," Will lowly assured her. "I'm sorry for assuming. You weren't the only one feeling that way," he feebly added, desperate to further the solidarity between them. "When I saw you in the shower, I...I reacted inappropriately." It all seemed like a sick joke now, in light of that confession, given how he had acted so supercilious in terms of her behavior. "I'm sorry," he whispered.

When Will confessed to having touched himself over her, just like she had over him, Abigail made a small sound. "Y-you don't have to say sorry for it." She said, shocked and flattered that she wasn't the only one entertaining such dirty thoughts.

"Is that what you need?" Will asked her. His voice was low, and perhaps even the slightest bit uncertain. His pulse still thrummed wildly in his limbs and he lifted a hand, now cupping the side of her face so that he could study her eyes. Had he hurt her? Did she despise him? "Are you wet now, Abigail?" The words tumbled past his lips before he could stop them, and Will's hands tensed around her thighs, cupping them and holding her fast against his quivering frame. A part of him needed the affirmation, the validation, if only to prove that he wasn't the only one tottering dangerously on the edge of impropriety.

Abigail's lips parted in shock as she stared back at him. She was stunned by his forwardness, squirming at how much she craved more touch, more contact with him to relieve the ache. "I-I think so." She stammered out, heart threatening to pound a hole in her chest.

Will's eyes flashed, and a flood of untamed, nettled heat flooded through him at her words. "There's always a way to find out," he softly reminded her. Hesitant, he slid a hand between Abigail's parted thighs, then pushed up until his palm was grazing her clothed heat. He brushed his fingers along her cotton panties, feeling a responding throb beneath his own waistband when a hint of warm, sticky wetness coated the tips of his fingers. His breath caught and he swallowed back a small groan.

Abigail found herself observing nervously, waiting to see what he would do, having zero desire to stop him but not knowing how the hell to react. She made a soft gasp when he stroked her through the thin fabric – nobody had ever touched her like this. Once, through her jeans, but it never made her body respond so strongly. Even his words increased her helpless arousal.

Retracting his hand, Will shivered at the loss of contact, then held up his soiled fingers for her perusal. "I suppose we have an answer," he said hoarsely. He paused a moment, then slid his fingers into his mouth, indulging in her musky arousal. His eyes grew bright as they roved her face, then his free hand moved to grip at her wrist. He felt filthy and repulsive, but somehow unable to stop his animal impulses. He knew this was wrong – he knew this was reprehensible – and yet he still drew Abigail's hand in to curl around the hard outline of his cock, his jaw clenching as he pushed her palm into the rigid bump of him.

Abigail watched him intently as he sucked her wetness from his fingertips, overcome by a sudden urge to kiss those lips, but still shy. Instead, Abigail found her hand placed on his erection and she bit her lip at how hard he was, hard for her. It was bewildering. "You want me just as bad." She whispered, the words forced from her by the shock of knowing it.

Will was genuinely baffled by her reply. Did Abigail not think herself good enough? Beautiful or smart enough? "Does it really surprise you?" he asked. Again, he cupped her hand over his throbbing arousal, squeezing her fingers and grinding into her open palm. "This is what you do without even truly touching me..." Gently releasing her wrist, he slid his hands up to cup her cheeks.

"Have you ever had an orgasm, Abigail?" His eyes danced with shadowed amusement. "Clearly, I know you had one last night, but have you ever experienced one that wasn't by your own hand?" Brushing his thumb along the curve of her face, Will bent forward and pressed a kiss to her scar – the one part of her he had failed to save.

Abigail's mouth went slack in awe of his arousal and it made her feel suddenly powerful, despite how unbelievable it seemed to her. She was desired properly and it was new and quite lovely. "No." She admitted, breathlessly, mind racing with the idea he might be suggesting he give her one.

Growing restless, Will hitched Abigail’s leg higher and pulled her in closer, his mouth opening wet-hot against her throat as he began bunching up her shirt with trembling, jittery fingers. Grinding his cock into her lower belly, he sucked on her scar tissue and licked at the uneven skin. When she admitted that no, she hadn't had an orgasm at the hands of another, Will slid his hands down and cupped the curve of her ass. "Do you want to?" he lowly asked, now brushing his lips up toward her ear.

There was a hesitance in Abigail's posture, and it ate at something deep inside. This was a girl who was used to being robbed of her control – who was used to being told by older men what she could and could not do. Was he truly any better than Hobbs? His stomach roiled over at the thought, but still he maintained contact. He knew it might do Abigail further damage, were he to pull away.

"This is about you," he promised. "If you don't like something, I want you to let me know. If you're uncomfortable in any way, you tell me. Understood?" Gliding his fingers along the gentle dip of her flank, he palmed a breast with his free hand, rubbing at her clothed nipple until he felt it harden beneath his touch. He wanted her to take whatever she needed from him – to use him for the sense of her own recovery. He had robbed her of so much, and yet he found himself unable to keep from taking just this one more thing. On the wall, their shadows from the dull lamplight flickered against the wood paneling, and he felt oddly voyeuristic watching the outline of their indiscretion. "You're allowed to touch me back," he whispered.

With his lips on her neck, and then his hand teasing her nipple, Abigail shuddered with want. She couldn't help but relax more into his arms as she nodded in understanding. She palmed over Will's hardness experimentally but as the heat of desire took over her, she faltered. "I..." She looked up at him, but couldn't quite articulate that she just wanted him to show her all this could be. She didn't want to pleasure him. Not yet.

Abigail was soft and warm, and as she laid flush against him, Will carefully maneuvered her down onto her back. His eyes grew wild and blue as he slid his fingers beneath her panties, gripping tightly at the garment while sliding it down over her knees. She was exposed and at his mercy – there was a certain thrill in that knowledge – and Will slid a hand in between her legs, marveling at the slickness that immediately adorned his fingers. "You're aching for it, aren't you?" he purred.

Abigail nodded her permission and her eagerness, eyes fixed on Will's. When he stripped her panties off she was again nervous, but as soon as he touched her...and his murmured words...she forgot all about it.

An odd surge of affection stirred in his chest, and Will slipped a finger inside her, careful and probing until he paused to add another digit. Curling them deep between her plush walls, he opened and closed his fingers, watching Abigail's face for signs of discomfort.

His fingers were skilled, bigger than hers too, and found places in her she never knew existed. She couldn't help the mewling, desperate sounds he forced from her with every movement.

"Do you want my mouth on you?" Regardless of her answer, Will hungered for Abigail in ways that made him reel – he yearned for her love, approval and affection, and still had no idea why. Gently rubbing his free hand along her inner thigh, Will opened her up to his ministrations and spread her legs as he brought his thumb to her clit and began to rub. From outside his bedroom door, Will thought he heard one of his dogs whine and scratch at the wooden surface, but he ignored the sound, his eyes intent on Abigail's face as he encouraged her to arch into his palm.

Her face flushed as he studied it, sure he could see each little jolt of pleasure he gave her written there. "Please....so good." She breathed vaguely, utterly torn between wanting to know what his mouth would feel like, and not wanting him to stop doing this. He began to stroke her at the same time and she cried out, writhing beneath his hand. She was badly in need of relief but never wanted the sensation to end.

Abigail arched and her soft, breathy cries instilled Will with the need to do more for her – to watch her slowly unravel around his long, exploring fingers. Encouraging her to rock into his grinding palm, he lowered his mouth to her clothed middle. Brushing a kiss along her shivering stomach, he brought his lips to her writhing body again and again, continuing his descent as he fingered her at a steady rhythm. As he slunk down so that the heat of his breath warmed her pulsing slit, Will watched Abigail shake, fascinated by her soft moans as her slick cunt made obscene, wet little noises around his driving fingers.

"I'm going to put my mouth on you," he whispered. Lifting his shadowed eyes to her face, Will lowered down and latched his lips onto her clit, sucking at the sensitive bud as he pushed, pressed, and rolled his fingers inside her throbbing heat. Her slickness coated his lips, tongue and stubble as he worked his fingers inside her, greedy in his movements as he growled into her slit.

Abigail was overwhelmed by the extra stimulation of his tongue, and she knew it wasn't going to take long until she found release like this. She almost involuntarily began to gently buck her hips into his fingers, whimpering with need. "Will..." She moaned, feeling her orgasm building and building inside her. "I'm..."

Gripping at her hips, Will encouraged Abigail to roll into his eager mouth. Delirious with over-stimulation, he began to almost helplessly grind down into the mattress, desperate for his own form of release as he held fast to her waist. Somewhere deep inside, Will could hear warning bells going off in his mind, but he ignored them.

Abigail began to spasm around his searching tongue, and Will lifted his eyes to regard her. With each languid, gentle press of her hips into his eager mouth, he rewarded her with more pressure to her clit. She spoke of being close. He could feel her desperation, and his own coiled deep in the pit of his stomach. Lifting his mouth with a hint of reluctance, Will spread Abigail's legs and moved his body in between them, his hands squeezing her thighs as they bracketed his hips. Eyes wild and dark, he began to grind his hardness into her naked heat. Her tiny gasps made him throb. Rubbing his cock along her soaking slit, he groaned as the thin fabric of his boxers began to grow saturated with her juices.

"That's it, sweetheart," Will whispered. "I need you to come for me..." Taking hold of Abigail's wrists, he lifted them high above her head so that they were nose-to-nose. He wanted – no, needed – to see her face when she came. Rolling in between her thighs more strongly, he ensured that the rough texture of his boxers rubbed and kissed at her overstimulated bud. His body began to tingle with the urge for his own climax.

Abigail could have whined at the loss of sensation when Will stopped licking her, but when he lay on her, and ground his cock against her through his boxers, she was soon panting with desperate desire. She was dizzy with how badly her body needed to come, and how badly she needed to have Will give her that. When he pinned her hands and brushed his lips against hers, she opened herself to him willingly, completely under his spell as he urged her to come undone under him. That voice made her shiver.

As hard as Will wished to deny it, this was a form of sex. He'd yearned to protect Abigail – to shelter her and love her – and yet he'd already twisted things in favor of his own perversions. He desired to have her wrapped snug around his cock, plush and wet as he fucked her hard into the mattress. Delirious with his need, Will pressed his forehead to Abigail's and cupped her cheeks, his open mouth gasping over top of her own as he pushed and rolled in between her thighs.

She was so beautiful lying there, flushed and arching, and he had the desire to see more. A part of him felt terrible – monstrous – but as he saw the actual calm and pleasure on her face, it instilled him with the feeling that he actually was helping her in the way he was meant to.

Abigail quaked beneath him, and Will could feel her thighs tensing around his hips. His breath grew ragged and he shuddered, encouraging her to maintain eye contact as he increased the speed of his thumb. Pushing and rubbing at her sensitive clit, he watched with rapt attention as she moaned, trembled, and began to come apart underneath his grinding cock and rubbing fingers. "Come for me," he pleaded again.

With the tortuous friction, it was just out of reach, but when he resumed rubbing her frantically she was practically sobbing with relief. "Yes...oh god." She moaned, her whole body tensing before she shattered hard, crying out loud against his mouth and thrusting her hips into his hand. It was the most intense orgasm she had ever had, heart pounding against her chest as he continued to roll himself against her.

"That's it, baby," Will whispered. He felt her twitch and writhe, and then he was thrusting hard into her orgasm, desperate to feel his own as her unyielding stare electrified him.

Will would not allow himself a kiss. Somehow, it seemed far too intimate and more than he deserved, yet the heat of her breath on his lips and the bright, sated look in her eyes were enough to send him over the edge. Shoulders tensing, a strangled cry caught in Will's throat and he arched, jerked, and spurted wetly in between their thrusting hips. Fuck.

He collapsed against her in a heap of satisfaction, groaning softly into her throat as he carded his fingers through her hair. "I wish I'd been inside you," he whispered, pressing his lips to the soft hollow of her neck. "Are you alright?" Will knew he hadn't hurt her, per se, and had shown enough self-control to maintain her technical purity, but a shadow of guilt still overcame him as he slowly withdrew. His boxers were now soaked and uncomfortable, and he was desirous of changing into a new pair.

Abigail gazed up at Will in blissed out, rapt disbelief that he quite clearly came in his underwear. Just from grinding on her. It was a heady feeling and she could only manage a breathless, "Uh huh." In vague answer, to all of it. True, he hadn't been inside her, but it was...wow, it was a lot.

"What happens next is up to you," Will declared. Moving off the bed and toward his dresser, he opened the top drawer and pulled out a fresh pair of underpants. "If you wish to never speak of this again, then we won't. We can pretend nothing happened and...and just move on from it." Slipping out of his soiled boxers, Will felt wholly exposed, both physically and emotionally as he glanced at her over his shoulder. "I care for you Abigail. And ultimately, I want to be whatever you need." Hesitant, he stepped into his clean pair of boxers, then pulled them up over his hips, his eyes downcast as he returned to the bed and sat alongside her. "I know I'm the 'responsible' party in this situation, but I want you to have as much control over this as I do. We're both adults, so this goes both ways."

She felt bereft, of his body heat and affection when he got up to change, prattling about what it all meant. Abigail had no idea – she was still processing her first sexual encounter to know what happened next, overcome with a softness towards him and a simultaneous vulnerability. He was trying to give her autonomy but she was filled with fresh doubts. Had that felt as good to him? Had he been using her? Had she been using him? Did he want to pretend it never happened? She couldn't voice any of it.

Abigail sat up a little, propped on her arm, so their bodies were closer again once he sat back down beside her. "Thanks." She said softly. "For saying that." She clarified, though frankly she was pretty pleased with the amazing orgasm too. Abigail wanted to say lots and couldn’t. She wanted more, she thought so anyway, and yet she was growing shy now the glow was wearing off.

Will looked over at her with a smile, lifting a hand to lightly brush his thumb along her cheek. "Do you need a shower? Maybe a bath? I don't have any special amenities, but the first thing you'll learn is that intimacy is messy. Movies tend to skip the graphic, less pleasing parts." Sliding an arm around her waist, Will leaned into Abigail's side in a half hug, oddly at peace as he curled her in against his flank. It was nighttime, and he felt soothed. When was the last time that had happened? And without alcohol as a crutch?

Abigail wrapped her slender arms around his neck when he pulled her close and rested her head on his shoulder, calmer than she had felt in months and months. "I'm ok, I'll take a bath in the morning, before I have to go back." Abigail pulled away a little to study at his face. "Can I sleep here?" She asked hopefully.

When Abigail wrapped her arms around him, Will felt a twinge of pleasure from being needed – from being wanted. He smiled into her hair, nuzzling her as his arms secured her against him more strongly. "Of course," he murmured. "Whatever you want, sweetheart. It's all your pace." Again, Will found himself wondering if she was aware of the power she held over him – of how he felt compelled to do anything for her, both out of blinding guilt and affection.

Abigail was overcome by the desire to just cling to him forever, safe in his arms. She felt stupid for it. Why would Will want more than that when he had his own stuff to deal with? When he could have someone his own age and not a scared little girl? When he would be disgusted if he found out about Nick Boyle and her blindly helping her father kill? She was almost glad he didn't kiss her because it would be more than she could handle while she knew this was only temporary. This was likely to be all this was.

Encouraging her to lie down again, Will ran his hand up and down her arm, smiling at her from across the pillow before leaning in to press his lips to her forehead. He wanted to kiss her – to feel her mouth open urgently beneath his own – but he still wouldn't allow himself the pleasure. It almost seemed laughable, given just where his mouth had been, but he was determined to keep at least a part of her safe from his perversions.

"When did you want me to take you back tomorrow?" Will asked. "We could have lunch, here or elsewhere, and then I suppose I could drive you back in the afternoon? Truth be told, I'm already scheming when to spring you out again. It seems like the bit of freedom has done you some good."

He had to be feeling sorry for her or just wanting to get off. Probably the former, Abigail decided, when he joked about next time. "You don't have to take me for lunch, or bust me out again, you've done so much already." She looked back at him, resting her head on her hands and foolishly allowed herself to wonder what it would be like if this could be real.

Will appeared bemused, now blinking back at her in disbelief. "What? Why would you assume that? It's not as if this is an inconvenience to me, Abigail…you're not an inconvenience." Taking hold of her hand, he curled it in to rest over his heart. He would hardly call what he'd done “too much,” so much as “despicable,” and he felt a tugging in his heart at her sudden shift in mood. Perhaps this was her subtle way of wishing to be alone?

"As I've said, we'll do whatever you wish, but you need to know I don't want to discard you, or poke holes in you like the rest of the Bureau. When you're out here with me, you don't have to do or think about anything you don't want to." He squeezed her hand.

Abigail's heart fluttered with hope that his words could perhaps be true, trying hard to ignore the nagging voice that said it was dumb. That he was only being kind. That he would turn her in when he found out. "Really?" She asked weakly.

Will offered her a soft smile. "Yes, of course. I don't indulge in hollow promises. Hell, I rarely indulge in promises at all, but for you, I'm willing to make an exception." Tucking her head beneath his chin, he cradled her against his chest before rolling over onto his back, exhaling softly as he curled her over top of him.

She longed to kiss those lips now, but she felt that throwing herself at him would only make her insecurity worse. Having her body draped on his softened her a little. "I'll stay until after lunch then, I'd like that." She didn't mention coming back, not wanting to get her own hopes up. Abigail found herself happy here and she couldn't bear it if she ended up losing this too. She wasn't that naive now.

"I'd like that, too," Will mumbled.

His eyes were beginning to grow heavy, and he pressed his lips to her temple. "Next time, I'll try to be a little more prepared for your company." Absently, he began to run his hand along the curve of her rear, stroking and kneading before sweeping his hand back up to rest at the small of her back. "That is, if you want to come back? There isn't terribly much to do out here, and I feel bad that all I've been able to really show you is my property. Anything requiring civilization would entail a bit of a drive, but if that's what you're looking for, I'd be willing to make the effort."

Abigail couldn't resist the comforting influence of his words and of letting him hold her. She knew it might be too good to be true, but she was too sleepy and too...she supposed post-coital was almost the right term...to think about it. His touch was somewhere between fondling and soothing so she was half asleep listening to him painting pictures of some future day together.

"‘Course I do..." She mumbled against his chest, succumbing to the rhythm of his breathing while curled around the warmth of his body. Abigail had slipped into dreams of it all before he could reply.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Will tried his best not to wake Abigail as he set a breakfast tray onto the nightstand. Buster and Skittles moved eagerly around his legs, hoping to catch a wayward scrap of bacon or eggs as they watched him with attentive eyes. Hitching up his pajama bottoms, Will plucked a piece of bacon from the tray, then waved it in front of Abigail’s softly breathing nose. He chuckled and set the meat back onto the plate.

 

“Too bad,” he said, loudly enough for the dogs’ ears to perk. “Looks like I’m going to have to eat all of this by myself…” Tucking a leg in toward his chest, Will crunched into the bacon and declared, "This is truly the best breakfast I've ever had. It's such a shame I don't have anyone to share it with!" Buster yipped then and he laughed, lightly running a hand along Abigail's shoulder. "No, no, not you, pal. I toiled over a stove for this one right here." For the first time in months, arguably years, Will felt well-rested and at peace, and with the morning light streaming in through the window, the memories of the night prior truly felt surreal.

 

Abigail stirred from the depths of sleep, to a bark from a small dog pattering about and a tender hand on her. Just as yesterday, it took her a moment to recall where she was, but then heard Will's quiet voice and wanted to hide. Last night. Oh god, last night they had...and the last thing she remembered was snuggling up to him. She didn't know how she was supposed to act in this situation. Abigail looked around and saw breakfast, before catching his eye.

 

"Hi." She said in a small voice. She shifted to sit up a little and noted, mortified, that she was still without her panties. She tried not to react to the discovery and instead took a sip of the juice from the tray.

 

Abigail appeared bleary-eyed and confused – perhaps even alarmed – but Will took it as a sign that she'd just been sound asleep. With a smile, he leaned over and kissed the top of her crown, fondly skating his touch along the gentle dip between her shoulder blades. When she went for her juice instead of the plate, he drew a hand over his chest in mock angst.

 

“I can’t believe you’re being so cruel,” he quipped. “I slaved over the stove all morning, and now you won’t even indulge me.” Buster nosed his thigh and he smiled. “According to my dogs, it’s pretty good…though they’ll eat just about anything, so I guess that’s not much of an endorsement.” Smile fading, he noted Abigail's embarrassment and cleared his throat, now rising off the bed in order to give her more space.

 

Had he been incorrect in assuming she wished to spend more time together? Last night, she had been plaintive and hopeful about not being sent back too early, but now she almost seemed desirous of being alone. "I thought we could make some plans for the week, but if you'd rather I give you some privacy, I'll more than happily go to the kitchen. I should probably review my work notes." Not that he would. Currently, he was far too distracted.

 

Abigail offered him a shy smile and set the glass down in favour of a piece of bacon. "At least give me a minute." She teased gently. He seemed nervous too, hovering as though he wasn't sure if he was going to sit there or leave. Her instinct spoke for her this early in the morning. "No, stay." She assured him quickly with a knitted brow. She was embarrassed, sure, but she didn't really want to be alone either. Somehow, inexplicably, she felt that would make it worse. Like maybe that would feel like he didn't even want to look at her, just like before. She ate the bacon and nodded appreciatively, hoping his continued presence would simply create a next thing to stay and growing anxious about how awkward and young she must seem to him.

 

Will turned as if he might leave, but then Abigail called to him, entreating him to stay. He would deny it, but he felt a warmth in his chest when he turned back around. Offering her a smile, he slowly sank down onto the bed alongside her, still giving her a respectable amount of space as she ate. He chuckled at her approval.

 

"See? I may be a bachelor, but we're not all terrible cooks. The only time I ever burn something is if I'm distracted with a good book." Shifting at the foot of the bed, Will watched Abigail sit there in the pale morning light, flushed and mussed while wearing his thin grey shirt. Something primal in him enjoyed the sight, almost as if he could lay claim to her affections based on appearance alone.

 

Abigail flashed him a more unintentionally coquettish look than she intended. "I believe you." She felt self-conscious under his gaze, knowing her hair was a mess and she was naked save for his t-shirt. It made her feel uneasy but also a little preening in a way she wasn't used to. Still, she would be more ok with it once she was presentable, she supposed, though she wondered what he was thinking.

 

"I have a pop-up camper I've never really used," Will softly offered. "It's stowed away behind my barn, barely touched, so I figured maybe I could take you driving this week...state-to-state, place-to-place, doing whatever strikes your fancy. Would you like that? Or would you prefer to stay in Maryland or Virginia?”

 

Abigail pictured what he said he had in mind. "Yeah I wish. There's so many places I've never seen, but they won't let you do that, Will." She said, defeated.

 

"I don't see why not. Hannibal and I have been signed on as your guardians, so legally, we’re both in control of your comings and goings. If I wish to take you away for the week, they shouldn't be able to deny me that...least especially since you are mentally sound. Dr. Bloom has verified that. They're merely keeping you at Port Haven under her request. You're nineteen years old, so you technically are allowed to leave whenever you wish. It's the Bureau that's holding you there." Chewing his lip, Will appeared apprehensive as he added, "Dr. Bloom told me your mother was cremated. I know it's not really any of my business, but if you wanted...well...if you wanted to go home, I could take you there. Maybe let you scatter your mother's ashes? I can't imagine that you'd want her final resting place to be here."

 

Abigail eyed him for a moment, taking in and really thinking about what he had said. "I don't want it to be up there either." She managed to say before her face crumpled into sudden emotion. Perhaps it was the early hour; or the thought of truly moving on without her mom; or the emotional vulnerability that came with last night's activity. Whatever it was, she raised a hand to her eyes like a little girl, trying to stem the flow of silent tears that fell unbidden as she thought, for maybe the first time, about how her mom was actually gone. How she really was just ashes to be scattered now.

 

The moment Abigail's face fell, Will felt as if an ice pick had pierced through his heart. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Why in God's name would he bring that up, and so quickly? The wound was still raw. He wasn't the best with emotion, and admittedly had never been the grieving type, so guiltily, he reached for her as she began to cry.

 

"Oh hey, no," he soothed, "it's alright..." Taking Abigail into his arms, he turned her in toward his chest and tucked her head beneath his chin, feeling her tears stain his shirt as he began rubbing careful circles along her back. "We don't have to do anything you don't want to," he reminded her. "Sorry for bringing it up, but I just thought...I-I figured maybe you needed closure. But if that's not what you want, I promise I'll never broach the subject again."

 

Abigail put a placating hand on his chest near her face, wanting him not to feel so bad. "No it's not your fault, I'm sorry. I'm such a mess." She mumbled against him, finding it easier to talk now he was holding her. "I just...I spent so much time thinking about my Dad, I kinda...forgot to be sad about my mom until now. Does that make me a bad person?"

 

Again, Will felt a pang in his chest. He pressed his cheek into her hair, feeling a lump form in his throat at her query. "No," he whispered. "Never. You're one of the strongest people I know, Abigail, and also one of the bravest. There's nothing wrong with you. We all grieve in our own way and truly, it's not all that surprising that your father has been your focus." He hoped he wasn’t sounding like some cheesy after school special.

 

"I don't feel strong, or brave." She admitted, once again made to feel better in his embrace.

 

"We never feel as strong as we are," Will softly assured her. "Perhaps there's just not enough room to contain it all." Clearing his throat, Will passed a hand through her locks, brushing his lips against her temple.

 

“You were spared of the court system, so that’s one small blessing. Trials are often agonizing and take up years of your life – it’s almost as if the crimes become suspended in animation. It prolongs the healing process.” He looked at her, only to immediately look away.

 

“Alana, ah…Doctor Bloom doesn’t believe we should see one another. I agree that it could be detrimental, seeing just who and what I represent, but I also don't want to leave you behind...I care for you.” He lowered his eyes. “But then, perhaps that’s selfish of me… If you need boundaries, I’ll more than happily allow you to draw the line.”

 

When he couldn't meet her eye, Abigail felt suddenly confused, was he saying he didn't think this was a good idea? Letting her down gently, she thought darkly to herself. Just as she thought. She tensed as the walls went up, feigning indifference despite the sting of his mixed messages and the quiver in her voice. It felt like he was hoping she would want space to make it easier for him to withdraw. She wouldn't be more foolish than she had already by starting to think he could want her. "Well if I'm just going to make things difficult...maybe it's better that way."

 

Abigail suddenly grew prickly in his embrace, and Will's brows lifted in bemusement. "What are you talking about? Why would you ever be a burden?" She hadn't used those words, per se, but the implication was clear. Taking her face in between his strong, weather-beaten hands, he tilted her chin so that he could meet with her gaze. "You're important to me, Abigail, and that will never change. I understand the dangers and potential drawbacks of establishing a connection, and yet I'm willing to risk them...but only with your approval. You've been robbed of so much in life, including your own control, so I at the very least wanted to give you the option of turning me away. It's not because I want you to.” He shook his head. “No, on the contrary...I very much want to be in your life."

 

Abigail cast her eyes down, trying half-heartedly to free herself from his grasp. "Be in my life then, cos I don't need to lose anyone else." She said sheepishly. She was chastened but really, she didn't get it. Why was he bothering with her like this? It made no sense why he would want to, and now it seemed to her like he was saying she was a chore but that he 'didn't mind'. She was filled with impotent, teenage anger and pulled away from him. "That's how my dad felt, thought he could handle the 'drawbacks' to loving me." She raised her voice and made sardonic air quotes around Will's words. "I don't want to just be your problem now." She was mad at him, at her dad, at Alana, and at herself and wouldn't look at him.

 

Will's heart did a somersault at her words and he flinched. "No, that's not it," he feebly said. "And you're not just some problem I want to solve and move on from..." And I'm not your father, he mentally pleaded, needing to believe it. "I understand why you're angry, and I also get why you don't trust me. I've robbed you of everything you've ever had...and even if it wasn't an ideal life, it was still yours. I think I'd hate me too, if I were you." He reached for her hands. "But could you possibly not hate me? At least, not for now?"

 

With their current plight underway, it seemed difficult to believe that mere hours ago he'd given her pleasure to ease the fear, his tongue making languid, eager swipes between her legs as she’d arched, cried out, and pleaded with him for more. He flushed at the memory, suddenly ashamed. If he didn't think of himself as a monster before, he certainly did now. Abigail Hobbs didn't need his type of influence. She didn't need his type of confusion, and yet he was ignoring every instinct to abandon her and let her soldier this on her own.

 

Abigail could feel the pain of all she had been suffering welling up inside her. She let him take her hands purely out of fear she might slap him for being so oblivious. For thinking this was all about him. "I don't hate you." She said carefully, teeth half-gritted. Whatever he claimed he felt for her, whether purely sexual or not, he seemed to hate himself for it. It made her feel...undesirable, worthless.

 

She pulled one hand free and leaned over to scoop up her panties with as much dignity as she could manage. How stupid she had been to think last night meant he was getting past it. She slid them on and stood, rounding on him with baleful, angry tears. "You're not my father. He's the one who robbed me of my life, and of my mother. You saved me from him and I want to trust you, but you just don't get it!"

 

Will winced from the growling force of her words, drawing back as Abigail pulled away. "I didn't mean...I-I just-" She ignored him, wriggling into her panties from off the floor. He flushed in shame. "Abigail, I know I keep failing you, but maybe if you could just help me understand..." But she broke away from him then, unable to keep up the pretence as she went racing for the bathroom. Abigail locked herself in, turning on the bath taps to muffle the sound of her hot, angry tears.

 

“Abigail!” Will immediately went for the handle, cursing when he discovered it was locked. “Abigail, come on, please…please talk to me.” Placing his hand against the door, his heart clenched when he heard her soft sobs. “Abigail, I’m begging you…I’m not leaving until you talk to me. I know I'm being ridiculously foolish, but I've never...I-I've never done this before. I've never taken care of another person other than myself. I'm accustomed to shutting people out, not letting them in...but I want to change that with you. So please…help me be the person you need me to be.”

 

Abigail listened to his imploring, muffled by the door and the running water. Her heart ached. Part of her wanted to wrench open the door and fall into his arms, while part of her wanted to never see him again. She placed her hand on the door for a moment, then pulled it away. What could she say? She didn't know if she could help him understand, when she barely understood it all herself. She wanted him to just... know what she needed, but she knew that was ridiculous. Her insecure side told her she had made an idiot of herself with this outburst anyway, and he would soon be sick of it.

 

"Go away." She said reflexively, barely meaning her words.

 

"I will not," Will said, startled by the force of his own conviction. For Abigail, he was often meek and imploring, yet on this matter he was steadfast. "You might be used to people leaving, but I'm not going to do that...and for your sake, I hope that's the answer you're hoping for, because otherwise you might be a bit miserable."

 

He forced a smile to his lips, hoping that his tone was reflecting good cheer. "If you're upset about last night, don't be. I wanted to touch you, Abigail, and I wanted to do more. Whatever you needed, I was willing to give...and I still am." Feeling oddly exposed, Will kept his hand on the door frame, leaning his weight into the wooden structure as he listened to the water run. "I also want to take you on that trip and outings, and anything you might want to do, so please...disregard what I said earlier. I didn't bring up Dr. Bloom as an out for me, but an out for you.”

 

Abigail was quietly pleased he didn't leave. She wasn't testing him on purpose, but knowing he couldn't be so easily put off did actually help. She wanted so badly to believe she wouldn't lose him too but heartbreak was the last thing she needed. "I don't want an out." She said, almost to herself, as though she didn't care if he heard it. "But I'm scared."

 

Will felt his stomach flip. "What are you scared of?" he asked, his tone taking on a far more gentle, less controlling timbre. "I'm not going to hurt you, Abigail, and I'm not trying to force myself where I'm not wanted. I just want to see you happy."

 

"I'm not scared of you." She reassured him with a tiny, sad smile he couldn’t see. I'm scared to get so close to you right now that I'd break if you left me, she thought.

 

Leaning into the wall, he exhaled and looked entreatingly to the door. "Please let me in, Abigail...it'd be much easier to talk about this if we were standing face-to-face." Would it though? Any time Will found himself returning Abigail Hobbs' gaze, he saw her strength and resilience, but also his faults and failures staring right back at him.

 

Abigail wavered, on one hand she felt like opening the door would be akin to admitting how silly she was being, or like metaphorically letting him in or something. On the other hand, as her anger had ebbed away this did seem ridiculous.

 

There came a pause, then the door slowly clicked open and Abigail’s tired, puffy face came into view. The misery in her eyes caused Will's heart to ache. Had he been the sole cause of that misery? Abigail's assurance, though shaky, did instill Will with a bit of relief. Each night that he went to sleep with dreams – no, nightmares – of her dying in his arms always left him fearful of what could happen.

 

Will shook his head while searching for a proper topic of solidarity. He reflected back to his teenage years, when he'd been lost and alone and terrified, and decided that it was the closest to what Abigail was currently experiencing. He cleared his throat and looked away.

 

“When I was younger, I…my mother left me,” he mumbled. “So as hard as it may be for you to believe, I know all about being hurt and confused.” He shifted from foot to foot and curled his hands, his heart pounding as he began to pace.

 

“I was five,” Will continued. “No friends, no sense of completion, no nothing… Even though I had my dad, I was alone.” He halted by the bed and swallowed. “I'm not sure why it mattered to me so much, because I honestly have no memory of my mother being good to either of us, but she was still my mom. From that moment thereafter, I looked for other ways to fill that hole she left behind.” He looked to Abigail entreatingly. "I hope you never feel that lost, and if you do, just know that you can come to me... That you'll never have to hide who and what you are, because I'll always accept you. That's a promise."

 

Abigail didn't know if his story made her feel better or worse. Her heart squeezed just as it had yesterday for the tiny little Will without a mommy, even a crappy one. "I know how that feels. I mean my dad was...well you know how he was, but he was still my dad." She swallowed, unable to stop the urge she felt to confess it all to him now.

 

She followed him back into the bedroom but stayed back from him. He wouldn't look at her that way anymore if he knew though, would he? Wouldn't be so eager to care for her. She lowered her eyes sadly.

 

"Is that what you think I'm doing? Looking for a replacement parent?" She had said it before she thought - pushing him away yet again.

 

Will made no move to come closer. "I'm...not quite sure what I believe," he admitted. "Hannibal seems to think you want what you've lost, and that we should give it to you, but truthfully, I find that a bit presumptuous. Though it seems I can only look into the minds of killers, because I'm woefully out of my depth when I try to ascertain what it is you need."

 

Abigail pouted but then sighed. She was a killer too, so maybe he just couldn’t figure her out.

 

"We often love those who deserve it the least," Will softly continued. "I wouldn't say I loved my mother, but at that point and time, I feel certain that I would have welcomed her back, should she have decided to return. I actually still have an old shawl of hers in the attic...it was the only thing of hers she'd left behind. And I was foolish enough to believe she'd come back for it." He appeared sheepish as he added, "I should probably get rid of it, now that I think about it."

 

Abigail felt softened seeing deeper into Will. The fight had gone out of her and she knew she was torturing him with her own mess. She tilted her head kindly. "Of course you loved her, you were a little boy and she was your mommy. There's nothing wrong with keeping that shawl, either." She told him, voice more gentle but staying where she was. She wanted to go to him and comfort him, but she also wanted to be the one he comforted. It was a dilemma. "I do think I've had enough 'fatherly' influence though."

 

Will grimaced. "I'd certainly say so," he softly agreed. "And if I had the intention of being your surrogate father, I suppose I'd have a lot to explain about my behaviour last night. You're not a child, Abigail. I only signed on as your guardian because you were unable to make your own medical decisions, not because I think you're a lost little lamb who needs my help. I rather...I like being around you. You're smart and unafraid to let someone know they're not minding their step." He chuckled. "And I appreciate the kind words, but it was a long time ago...there's no need for me to hold on to ghosts of my past." Lifting his hand, Will gently entreated her with his eyes. "C'mere," he whispered.

 

Abigail went wide-eyed and snorted an embarrassed laugh – they hadn't mentioned last night out loud yet. "Yeah and then some." She joked shyly, but then met his kind, questioning eyes.

 

Will was relieved to see the softness return to her face. He hated to be the cause of any unrest, no matter how slight. He kept his hand held out to her, patient despite potential rejection. She hovered for a second but then went to him as if automatically drawn by his gentle command, slotting under his offered hand and sliding her arms around his waist. When she came to him, lowered guard and soft edges, Will wrapped her up in his arms and edged his cheek into her hair, calmed by her soft breathing as he tucked her securely beneath his chin.

 

"I think we got off on the wrong foot," Will lowly said, "but we have the power to fix that. It's only been 24 hours, but I already feel like I'm understanding where I've made all my missteps. And now that we've established what you don't want, hopefully you'll be alright with going away for a while. I know Dr. Bloom would disagree, but I don't think staying at the hospital is one-hundred percent good for your well-being."

 

"It's not, I hate it there so I'm definitely up for that." Abigail said muffled against him. She was beginning to seek his warm embrace and the safe feeling it filled her with. She pulled back to look up at him. "Besides, it's not been all bad..." She murmured shyly.

 

Selfishly, Will found himself glad to hear it. He yearned for her praise, basking in it like a bloom reaching for sunlight. Carefully carding his fingers through her hair, he brushed his thumb along the curve of her cheek, wallowing in the crashing blue waves of her eyes. The air between them changed, crackling with tension...

 

"Oh my God, the water!" Abigail broke away, startling him as she raced for the bathroom to turn the taps off. Luckily it was just getting full and not overflowing yet.

 

Unable to help himself, Will started laughing. “At the very least, you might be inadvertently cleaning my grimy tile floor? I haven't gotten around to it yet this month..." There had been too much to do. Or more specifically, to deal with. "I hate to bring it up again, but did you want to go to Minnesota? I know there are plenty of bad memories there, but...we could always make new ones? Something positive to replace them.”

 

Abigail wrinkled her nose comically at the suggestion of cleaning his floor as she ran some cold water into the tub to make it right, then nodded thoughtfully at his suggestion. "I'll have a think about where we go." She assured him and then stood awkwardly.

 

"Just say the word, and that’s what we’ll do," Will agreed. "The Bureau owes me a vacation anyway, so I'm sure they'd be willing to carve me out a decent extension of time. Perhaps a few weeks, if you're up for that."

 

"Get out!" She joked with a faint flush when he made no move to leave. Last night was one thing but she wasn't near ready to just strip in the bright daylight and chat to him naked.

 

Will jolted at the sight of her blush. He hadn't realized just how borderline inappropriate he'd been behaving, so with a sheepish smile, he ducked his head and stepped out of the doorway. "Don't forget to wash behind your ears," he quipped. Had he been feeling bolder, he might have offered to help with her “hard to reach places.”

 

Abigail tied her hair up with the band around her wrist and peeled off her dirty clothes. The water felt amazing and she sunk into it, finally relaxing.

 

Gathering up the empty plate and cup on the nightstand, Will took the dishes to the kitchen, a faint ruddiness on his cheeks as his dogs watched him curiously. "Looks like Abigail might be staying with us for a while," he told them. He often spoke to his pets as if they understood.

 

*

 

When she was done and dressed, Abigail found Will downstairs. "So...I know what I want to do." She announced. "All this mom talk...I do want to take her ashes somewhere. There's this place on Lake Michigan we went to a lot when I was little, we had a lot of photos of me and her there. It's pretty." She rambled.

 

Will had been preparing a pot of coffee when Abigail walked in, fresh-faced and newly dressed. He turned away from the counter and offered her a mug. "Really?" He tried not to appear pleasantly surprised, given the somber nature of the experience. As Abigail explained where she wished to go, he nodded, taking a tentative sip of coffee.

 

"We can do that," he assured her. "Where on Lake Michigan, exactly? I might have been there once or twice as a boy... Can't really remember. I've travelled far more than is necessary throughout my lifetime – not all of it for pleasure, either." Bending over to scratch Zoe behind the ears, he sighed before straightening again. "When would you like to head out there?"

 

Abigail was pleased he was fine with the suggestion and smiled apologetically. "Well that's the thing, we only went when I was little and I don't actually know, but I have a feeling I know how to find out, only..." She hesitated. "...we would have to go to my house. Is that ok?" Abigail looked at him hopefully, already mentally planning what she would need to get from her room while they were there, but she knew it would be hard for him to be in that place too.

 

"So I guess it'll just have to be our own little expedition," Will agreed, looking her in the eye and nodding. "That'll be fine, Abigail. Your father transcends Minnesota, so I've seen him elsewhere. But it's nothing to worry about, because I've been promised medication."

 

He hadn't been, and he didn't understand why. Evidently, Dr. Lecter believed in more natural methods to fight the demons in his mind. Dumping his half-empty coffee into the sink, Will took hold of Abigail's shoulder and kissed her forehead. "I'll call the hospital," he said. "I'll let them know I'm taking you out for a few weeks, and if you need anything more, I'll drive you over so that you can pick up your stuff. Does that sound alright?"

 

Abigail worried a little about his allusion to seeing her father other places...he really was troubled and she didn't know if she pitied or feared his incessant instability. She truly hoped that away from Hannibal, Jack and the FBI he might get better. "Thanks Will, but there's nothing much still there."

 

Will took note of the falter in Abigail's appearance and instantly, he felt beside himself with dread. She feared him. It was inevitable, wasn't it? To think something was horribly wrong with him? Forcing a smile to his lips, Will nodded and headed out toward the door. "We should get going," he encouraged. "Especially if we'll be filling another gigantic bag like the one in your current arsenal."

 

Abigail sighed when yet again his face closed down. She hadn't meant to upset him but she really wasn't sure what she had done. She smiled weakly at his joke about the bag and willed herself to keep going with their plan now they were getting on better. "I might take some things from my old room.” She explained, wondering how she was going to feel there herself.

 

He paused a moment. "Take stuff from your room, as in...the one in Minnesota?" Abigail was right. She didn't truly have much left at the hospital, so all he needed to do was order a couple plane tickets on his phone, and then they would be set. “You have to be feeling homesick by now, I would imagine. Did you live there your entire life?" There was a comforting thought in being rooted in one place. Will, himself, had always moved from place to place, always the new face and always the stranger.

 

"Yeah I did." She tried to focus on this line of conversation, not wanting to spoil things again. "We had another house before, not far away from that one, but I only remember parts of it."

 

"The only memory I have of our first house was we had a piano," Will admitted. "Do you play? I never bothered to learn, though I can pick at a guitar here and there. I have an old piano in the living room that I inherited from a customer, believe it or not, but like I said, I never bothered. A part of me almost feels guilty for that."

 

Lightly taking hold of Abigail's elbow, he began leading her down the front porch steps and into the driveway. He knew she didn't need the assistance, but he found himself desirous of that physical connection. Last night, he'd slept the soundest that he had in years, and something in him knew he had Abigail to thank for that.

 

"Oh no, I can't play anything. I'm more a writing/drawing type when it comes to creativity." She joked. His hand on her was reassuring, it always seemed to calm her, and she didn't want things to be uncomfortable, even though they were.

 

"Really?" Will's eyes lit up at the thought, his mouth quirking into a smile. "Would you be willing to show me your work? You don't have to, of course – I know how sacred privacy can be, and some prefer not to share their talents. But I'd love to see your writing and drawings. What do you prefer? Poetry? Still life?"

 

“Oh...um...maybe.” She gave a small laugh. “I just sketch random stuff, really.”

 

"Somehow, I have a feeling you're selling yourself short," Will said. "But if you'd rather keep your work private, I understand. Art is a part of you...it's easy to feel naked when you share the most intimate parts of yourself. I could show you some of my lures, but I doubt that'd be a worthy exchange."

 

"I'm no artist, really." Abigail bit her lip at his description. He had seen her literally naked.

 

"We have a bit of a drive ahead of us, but the airport isn't too far away," Will assured her. "Perhaps we can use the time to talk?" He glanced at her hopefully.

 

Abigail looked over at Will as he started the car. "Sure...what do you want to talk about?" She asked.

 

Easing the car up the driveway, a heaviness suddenly filled Will's chest as the topic once more turned taboo. "Well..." He trailed off a moment, drumming his fingers against the steering wheel. "I was hoping that perhaps we could set up assurances of some sort? I'm not the type who just takes, and I wanted you to know that I don't consider...I-I don't consider last night a blip, and I don't wish to sweep it under the rug. Not unless you want to." He glanced her way for a moment, then immediately looked back at the road.

 

Abigail hated how she seemed to be making him uncomfortable still, but she didn’t know how to fix it. She could only answer his questions, and be glad he was talking, but then he brought up last night and it was her turn to be nervous.

 

She looked at his profile, vaguely thinking about where those lips had been before blushing and turning away. “I don’t want that.” She finally managed to say, but cursed herself for not saying more, for not being cool or good with this kind of stuff.

 

Abigail's assurance made Will pause. He reached for her, curling his hand over her fingers and gently squeezing. "We've been through a lot together," he softly said. "Perhaps it's unwise to reach for you, but even a total stranger could see my attachment." He thought of Eldon Stammets, not so delusional in his ravings, and shook his head.

 

"Last night, I didn't think dark thoughts, or see the dead – I was able to sleep and dream, and a part of me believes it's all because of you. I fear for the co-dependency and pressure that might put on you... I don't want you feeling like you're obligated to fix me." He squeezed her hand again, now gently gliding his thumb along her knuckles.

 

Abigail swallowed and examined his words. She made his sleep peaceful, and she couldn't help the shy pride she felt. Maybe it was wrong, she was no expert, but it didn't feel like it. She watched his hand gently move on hers. "I don't think you need fixing, no more than I do anyway." She spoke with uncharacteristic lack of caution.

 

"You don't need fixing," Will assured her. "You just need some time to heal, that's all, and time and a good friend are often the best medicine for that." He turned his head to flash her a smile. "I hope you'll feel safe with me throughout our travels. I'm not going to let anything happen to you." Will knew it was unwise to make promises, but a part of him foolishly believed he could protect Abigail from anything. Or maybe he just wanted to.

 

Abigail looked sideways at him. “Maybe you need to listen to yourself then, and heal too.” She was scared...not of him but for him, if he didn’t stop that.

 

"Maybe I should." Will softly agreed. He held loosely onto the wheel with one hand, and continued to hold onto Abigail's with the other. "We're all hypocrites to an extent, but I'm getting help. It's nothing you should concern yourself with." He didn't want to frighten her. It wouldn't be easy, after all, to confess that nearly any time he closed his eyes, he ended up seeing her father staring back at him with glazed, milky eyes.

 

"I want to show you many new things," he added. "You've been repressed by your father all these years, so it's time for you to truly experience life."

 

She thought for a moment about what he was really saying. Maybe it was his sexy voice or maybe it was her own imagination but she felt as though he was insinuating something not unlike last night. Or maybe he wasn’t, but it filled her with nervous excitement. “Like how?” She pressed the issue quietly further.

 

Something about Abigail's tone was soft and almost hesitant. Will glanced her way with concern, then turned to face the front again. "We can do whatever you want," he assured her smoothly. "There has to be something on that 'life list' of yours you've never checked off. Let me help you achieve that."

 

Abigail laughed a little awkwardly. “There’s plenty...I only just got out of school when my life got messed up.” She mused. “Go to Europe, Australia...write a book, get a tattoo...get married. Maybe. Someday? Who knows.” She reeled off some generic and non-immediate things people wanted. Have sex she thought only to herself. Was he offering that as well? Almost certainly. She felt too warm.

 

Will had to smile at Abigail's (rather predictable) list. "You do know Australia has spiders the size of dinner plates, right? Poisonous ones, too. But if you're intent on seeing that part of the world, I suppose I could take one for the team and bring you over there. Europe's nice though, but everyone knows that. It's why it's on many 'to-do’ lists." Arching a brow, Will glanced Abigail's way before giving her a brief once-over. "A tattoo? Of what? And where?” Perhaps that had been too personal... Waving it off, he looked back toward the road. "I've never been inked, but that's mostly because I get bored too easily. I'd never be happy with something permanently on my body for my entire life."

 

Marriage was a bit of a surprise to hear, but Will was pleased that Abigail felt she would heal enough for that level of trust. He was worried that with her upbringing, she would feel far too nervous and closed off from normal, healthy relationships. "Is that really all?" he asked quietly. By this point, he was fishing, and not in his traditional method of choice.

 

Abigail found his enthusiastic reaction rather funny and shook her head at all his questions. “First of all...yeah I guess but they surely aren’t in like civilised places too?! Secondly I don’t know I just think it looks cool...somewhere not tacky, like my ankle maybe.” She wondered if maybe she would get something signifying all she had been through. “A little permanent reminder can be good, and yeah that’s all I can think of on the spot!” She offered a smile and tried not to show where her mind was going. He already gave her a few things she had never experienced last night, but in the light of day she didn’t know how to talk about that stuff, even though she wanted to.

 

"I've heard that getting a tattoo feels like a cat scratch or a bee sting...but then, I suppose pain is irrelevant, just so long as it makes you feel good." Will didn't bother adding that after having her throat cut open like a ripe peach, pretty much anything dulled in comparison.

 

"I'd offer to get one with you, but I'd look downright ridiculous with a tattoo," Will said. "Besides, I wouldn't know what to get. There's nothing overly significant in my life that would work." Abigail's negation made Will pause. He gnawed on the inside of his cheek, debating on whether or not to just rip off the band-aid and get it over with.

 

Abigail nodded, unfazed by a little pain, though she had to chuckle at the idea of pain making you feel good. She was about to make a joke about that being a little kinky when he continued.

 

"I could...show you other things," Will offered after a moment. Evidently, he was just going to go right for the jugular. "That is...if you would wish to pursue intimacy in a similar fashion to what we did last night?" The blood rushed through his ears and Will cleared his throat, suddenly feeling as though he had said far too much.

 

She was a little embarrassed but her automatic reaction was to be mad at him. "You're doing it again, Will." She pouted, irritated that he had forgotten his promise so soon. "I'm not a project and I don't want your charity sex ed. If you care about me like you say then just..." She tailed off, waving her hands and unsure how to say 'just do it' without sounding like she was propositioning him to fuck her right there. She just wanted him to be a man, she supposed, to take charge instead of all this planning and awkwardness.

 

Will blinked back at her in shock. What had he done now? Despite his empathy, there was a clear roadblock when it came to Abigail Hobbs. No matter how hard he tried, it seemed that they were never quite on the same page. He tensed his hands in frustration.

 

"You're not a charity case, Abigail, and I am more than aware of this fact. I just...I want to spend some time with you, and if that sounds selfish, then I suppose it is. Last night when I held you, I didn't see any ugliness, and I guess a part of me was hoping that the same had happened for you." He didn't want to be alone in this new, overwhelming sensation. There was a perverse need in him for her to just get what he meant, and to not even question it, but he knew that wasn't fair. "I'm not asking out of charity," Will whispered. "I'm asking because I want to."

 

Abigail blinked back hot, frustrated tears. She knew she was being a nightmare but she just didn't know what to say. She was only just figuring out her desires and he wanted her to try and voice them. "It did happen for me...I want to." She whispered back. "I'm not good at this, maybe you should just take me back and save yourself all this trouble." She said warily.

 

"What are you talking about? I'm not taking you back," Will said. "I know you think of yourself as a burden, Abigail, but you're not. You're not just...you're not something I want to file away and forget about. Besides, learning is all a part of life, isn't it? Whether you're good or bad at this is irrelevant. As long as I get to help you, and perhaps also help myself, this trip will be worth it. For both of us." He reached over and brushed the hair back from her eyes, lightly stroking his thumb along the curve of her cheek.

 

"I won't ever force you to do something you're not comfortable with, Abigail, so if you want to go back, I'll turn this car around. But I'm telling you, I don't find this to be an imposition, and I want to take you to Minnesota. Hell, I want to take you to Australia and Europe too, if you were truly serious about traveling. The Bureau owes me at least three months of vacation, all things considered." Withdrawing his hand, Will sighed. "You're important to me. I don't find it unreasonable, nor shocking that I want to ease you into... equally important milestones in your life. You'll need someone you can trust...and given the circumstances, it might be a long while before you're given that luxury again." That sounded selfish. Inwardly, Will kicked himself for saying something so brutally honest and self-serving. It should be her decision, not his own.

 

Abigail softened despite her stubbornness, with his hand on her face. It was new and nice to hear him say those things after wondering for so long why he had avoided her. "I know...I know all that, and I don't want to go back, I just don't like talking about...that." She waved a hand dismissively and glanced up at him. "So if you could not force me to discuss it, and just...be here with me, that would be great." She teased gently. She trusted Will almost instinctively, she always had, but she couldn't help her nerves at the thought of what he was suggesting.

 

In spite of Will's shame, he couldn't help but smirk at her declaration. "I couldn't very well be your chauffeur and not be here with you, but I think I know what you're saying. No 'in depth' discussions or forced assurances, or facing one's inner feelings. Not unless you bring it up first, of course."

 

Flipping on the radio, Will leaned back in his seat and returned both hands to the wheel. "It'll be a little while 'til the airport, so we might as well get comfortable. I promise I won't talk." He smiled sheepishly and she wrinkled her nose good-naturedly back. It had never been in his nature to over share, but with Abigail, it seemed he couldn't quite help himself. Turning the radio up further, he sped up the vehicle and prepared to turn them onto the interstate.

Chapter Text

With the weariness of the flight over and done with, Will had rented a car and helped Abigail get situated into the hotel he'd booked. It wasn't state of the art, but it also wasn't a complete dump – the goal was to keep Abigail out of public sight, just in case someone recognized her from the papers and harassed her. Finishing up with his unpacking, Will loosened the buttons on his flannel and turned his head, checking to see if Abigail was close by. "Are you finished?" he called to her. "I wasn't sure when you wanted to go to your house, but it would probably be wise to rest after all that flying. Because it's still what, a few hours to drive?"

Abigail came out of the bathroom and leaned on the doorframe, drying her hands now she had finally washed plane germs off them. "Honestly? I'm exhausted and it's probably pointless now." She checked the time and looked back at him. "I think we should just go tomorrow, don't you?"

Will nodded and rolled his sleeves up his arms. "Fair enough," he agreed. "If you want, I could order room service? I've never had it before, but it might be a nice change of pace." He took off his watch and set it onto the dresser. "Did you want first dibs on the shower?"

"Sure, and yeah I am pretty hungry." Abigail hesitated for a moment. "Can I uh...borrow a shirt to sleep in again? I haven't got enough stuff with me until we go to the house." She asked sheepishly, toeing off her shoes.

Will looked over at Abigail in bemusement, idly thumbing open the rest of the buttons to his flannel. He wore a faded, over-worn undershirt underneath, and he was beginning to feel much too warm with the upper garment. "You didn't pack a shirt that could suffice?"

Abigail looked apologetically at him. "Well not really...this is the last shirt I have and it's not very comfy for sleeping." She pulled at her top, tight in a lot of places and with fake zip pockets for decoration.

"Well, I know absolutely nothing about fashion, but I can tell that looks uncomfortable," Will agreed. Realizing that it was doubtful Alana had given her any over-sized shirts, he sighed. Discarding his flannel onto the back of a nearby chair, he said, "That should be alright...I brought enough clothing for a week, because I wasn't certain how long you wished to travel. You can use that, if you'd like. In the meantime, check out that menu on the nightstand and tell me what you're hungry for."

She walked to the nightstand, scanned the list quickly and set it down. "Thank you. Get me that pasta please." She went into the bathroom.

Will flashed her a wry smile. "You got it. Go ahead and get your shower – I promise not to peek this time." Ok, that had definitely been said in poor taste… "I, uh… It's not an imposition or anything – I'd just hate for you to sleep in my baggy, potentially dog hair-ridden clothes."

Abigail picked up the shirt he had put down and noticed she caught the scent of Will from the still-warm garment in her hand and resisted the urge to blatantly hold it up to her nose. He smelled so good. She could only roll her eyes through the door at Will's blunt remark. "Maybe I like sleeping in your shirt." Abigail called from the bathroom, not entirely meaning to sound flirtatious, but unfazed that it came out that way. It was true, the smell of him and the bagginess was comforting in many ways. She laid the shirt on the vanity and began undressing.

Will ordered Abigail the pasta, and a sandwich of sorts for himself before checking through his texts. Jack seemed to be concerned with his plans for Abigail but then, he had always had the wrong idea about her, and Will wasn't about to listen to his paranoia now. In about twenty minutes the food was delivered, and Will tipped the tired-looking man before spreading the dishes across the bed.

"This isn't exactly traditional," he called over his shoulder. "Whenever you're ready to come out, I've got everything set up. I guess I should've booked a place with a table..."

Abigail showered unhurriedly, washing her hair but then tying it into a wet bun to eat. She emerged in his shirt and her underwear, not really thinking about him seeing her that way. Not now. "It's fine, it’s kinda fun. Like an indoor picnic, or a sleepover." She sat cross-legged on the bed and took a bite.

When the door opened, Will took a seat on the edge of the bed, trying not to appear too fazed when Abigail emerged from the steamy bathroom. In spite of her shyness, she didn't appear overly concerned with her state of dress (or lack thereof) as she stepped lightly toward the bed. He took note of her bare legs and respectfully rolled his eyes toward the ceiling, listening as she made her off-hand remark.

Will had to chuckle at her assessment. "I can't say I've ever had a sleepover, but I can assure you, we won't be braiding each other's hair and talking about boys. Well…if that's what actually occurs at sleepovers. Men seem to fantasize that it's mostly naked pillow fights." When Abigail began to eat, Will finally felt it was safe to look her in the eye. "You look a little tired and tense," he said. "I know you'll probably say no, but I once dated a masseuse and she actually taught me a bit about removing tension. That's the one regret I have in life – breaking up with that woman. Only because of the back rubs, of course." He chuckled and idly picked at the foil on his sandwich. In truth, he didn't have much of an appetite. "So if you'd like, I can possibly help with that after you're finished eating."

"Oh sure." She teased. "The back rubs. Nah, sleepovers are mostly just the talking about boys part." She smirked.

Abigail watched his hands poke at his food, latching on to that rather than answer one way or another about the massage...she was dangerously close to remembering what those hands did to her last night in vivid detail and she wasn't sure she trusted herself with that right now. She knew where things could, and likely would go, but she was nervous. "Aren't you hungry?"

Chewing his lip, Will glanced toward Abigail again, unsure of why feminine things seemed important now, and with her. He had never given the human body much thought – after seeing people cut open day in and day out, sexuality almost became sterile.

Abigail's question caused Will to raise his head, his mouth twisting before he admitted, "Not terribly, no. I feel...distracted." While she sat, he watched her move, her positioning baring most of her legs as she ate. He was not oblivious to the fact Abigail had ignored his earlier question, so he decided not to push the matter. She had warned him not to make her feel uncomfortable, and clearly, this was one of those instances.

He set his sandwich aside entirely. "When all your affairs are in order, what would you think about going fishing with me? It's probably not your idea of a good time, but afterwards, we could camp in the woods and just...be away from it all. I enjoy the isolation." It was an awkward, less than smooth way of proposing they spend more time together without actually outright saying so.

She reached out, a little hesitantly but needing to make sure she was getting through to him. "We can stay at the park I'm talking about once we're there if I can find the damn name – or we can go someplace else? I don't mind." She was happy to be anywhere but Port Haven.

Her hand came over his then and Will drew a breath, almost hesitant as he draped his free hand over her own. "My suggestions for that were self-serving as well. But if it's what you'd truly prefer, I would be glad to let you stay overnight."

Abigail set down her fork at his tone. “What’s wrong?” She asked, worried he was having second thoughts about being there.

Will's eyes strayed toward the smeared sauce on her lower lip. It was oddly endearing. Chest heavy, he rubbed the back of his neck and shook his head. "Nothing's wrong, per se, I just...I suppose I'm concerned that this trip will become about what I want instead of what you want."

Abigail spoke with more patience than she felt. "Will...We are going to my house to get my mom's ashes and scatter them where I want. What suggests to you that we aren’t doing what I want?"

Will tensed in frustration. "Abigail, that's not what I meant. You're beautiful, and...and borderline indecent right now, and my motives for suggesting a back rub were impure and self-serving. What I want is...I...I want to touch you."

Abigail stared at him for a moment. She was not surprised by his intention of course, not after last night, but shocked and a little incensed at his sudden outburst. What did he hope to achieve by telling her this? Sure, this was what she wanted – for him to like her, want her, take charge. She even entertained wild thoughts of him throwing her down in frustration and taking her right there. It actually turned her on. But in the real world, just blurting it out like this had only made it more awkward...

She felt her pulse in her ears. "What do you want me to say to that?"

Abigail's silence made Will withdraw, disquieted as he gathered up his food and moved with it to the trash. His foolishness had cost him his appetite. "Nothing, if you would prefer," he said in response to her question. "Perhaps words weren't the best option." But then, if he had taken a fist full of Abigail’s hair, dragged her into his lap, and then crashed his mouth into hers, drinking of her and grinding her down into his arousal, would that have truly made matters better? Or would it have made everything worse?

"If you're done, I suppose I'll go ahead and get my shower," he muttered. "I saw the TV remote in the far corner there, if you'd like to watch something."

Abigail didn't offer a reply, so Will ducked wordlessly into the bathroom, closing it behind him with a low exhale. It was alright. It was okay. Just because he'd undoubtedly alienated the one person who made him feel safe didn't mean this was the end. Perhaps he'd just misinterpreted her silence. Maybe she needed the time to process…

Abigail sucked her lip petulantly. Will was mad at her, or at the very least thoroughly turned off. Abigail nodded sadly to herself, waiting until he shut himself into the bathroom before dumping the rest of her food too. She didn't want to eat now either. She was just a dumb kid and it made perfect sense that he was disgusted with himself for wanting her. Last night was a blip and her silly little fantasies about the two of them were just that.

She lay back on the bed and picked up the TV remote Will mentioned. She switched it on but didn't even bother to change it to a good station, simply stared at the screen and listened to the voices and the shower running, while trying to fight down fat, childish tears.

Grimly disrobing, Will stepped underneath the showerhead and allowed the water to assault him with hot, stinging droplets. He squeezed his eyes tightly closed and swallowed. Over the low, steady hum of the spigot, he could hear his heart pounding in his temples. Everything was wrong…everything was fucked, and yet he couldn’t bring himself to stop thinking of Abigail’s bright, challenging eyes, or the way her mouth worked when she was displeased. And God, was she displeased with him currently.

He bathed with little thought, then stepped out of the shower, dried off, and knotted his towel around his waist. His heart continued to pound as he opened the door. Abigail was lying on her bed, appearing disinterested as she watched the monotone droning of some TV show. Will didn't look at the screen. He only kept his eyes on her, his limbs trembling as he approached her side of the bed.

Her lashes were lowered and she appeared soft – inviting – and he acted accordingly. Lowering down alongside her, Will cupped the side of her face and turned her toward him, his mouth latching onto hers as he angled in to kiss the lips that had long since plagued him. Each kiss felt like an apology – I'msorryI'msorryI'msorryI'msofuckedupI'msorry – and he licked at her bottom lip, groaning softly as he pulled her in against his bare chest.

This was wrong. Why did he always take and do what he wanted to do? Breaking the kiss with a panicked breath, Will pressed his forehead to Abigail's and held her close, anchoring her there as he managed to return her gaze. "I'm sorry," he whispered aloud. "I didn't mean to hurt your feelings." Tenderly, he brushed his fingers through her hair. She wasn't fragile, and yet he still had a damnably strong need to protect her – to shield her from himself and what he was.

Abigail had heard him emerge, heard him approach her, and tried to seem indifferent, but she had not been prepared for the kiss. She didn't know it was possible to feel so much just from kissing. His lips were perfect, asking and taking but oh, so gently. She tried her best to kiss him back but her heart was stuttered by lust as he pressed her against his naked skin. When he stopped she was sure he could hear it banging against her ribs, but she managed to smile sadly at him. "I didn't mean to hurt yours either." She whispered. "But you could have just done this in the first place." She said shyly.

"I don't have the best track record of making wise decisions, so I wanted to be sure," Will murmured. Idly tracing his thumb along Abigail's hip, he flicked his gaze back to her face, now feeling a low pulsing beneath his towel as his fingertips met soft, welcoming skin.

"May I undress you?" he huskily asked. His hand spread along the small of her back, turning her in closer as his breath warmed her upper lip. "I had a limited view last night," he added, which was true. He had only removed her panties, and whenever he'd walked in on her during her shower, he had only been privy to the back of her.

"May I ask one more thing? I don't expect anything of you...I would just like to touch, if you'll allow me the pleasure." Slowly, Will cupped her face, drawing her chin upward so he could meet with her eyes. Her gaze was all-encompassing and blue, and he felt foolish for ever having blamed her for anything.

Abigail’s breathing quickened as she panicked. Nobody had ever seen her naked like this before, and she wasn’t exactly confident about herself. Last night had been dark and intense and she didn’t have to think about that. She remembered the pleasure he brought her and couldn’t deny she wanted more. She tried to focus on that and nodded shakily, in answer to both his requests.

The desperation for touch – for connection – propelled Will in his desires, and he offered little resistance to her permission. “Lie down,” he commanded. Eyes wild and blue, he undid her buttons until he’d bared her to his wandering touch, his thumb grazing her rosy nipple as his lips brushed against hers in a soft, barely-there kiss. “You’re beautiful,” he whispered.

Maneuvering Abigail none-too-gently onto her stomach, Will shucked his towel and palmed himself, several soft, shallow breaths catching in his throat as he watched her through heavy-lidded eyes. With her cheek pressed into the bedding, Will crawled over top of Abigail and slipped a hand between her legs, now rocking his palm into her heat as he ground his swelling arousal into the soft, shapely curve of her bottom.

Abigail licked her lip as she complied, allowing him to unbutton her own shirt and expose her body. His gentle caress and his compliment settled her nerves a little but then suddenly she was on her front, not knowing what he was doing. She wondered why she was so aroused by it instead of scared…

“I’m not going to fight you anymore,” Will promised, nipping at her ear. With his hand dipping beneath the hem of her panties, Will ran his fingers along her slit before pushing one deep inside her tight, soaking hole.

“That’s a good girl,” he whispered. “Take me in.” In this moment, she didn't need him to be her protector. She needed him to be her lover – to make her feel good and forget.

Will's touch grew firm, dominant while he teased her but his words were sweet. It was a powerful mixture and no surprise that she was so wet for him. Abigail had no idea this was just what she had wanted from him until she was finally getting it. She couldn't help the moan that escaped her when he slid his finger into her without warning or preamble, clinging to the pillow beneath her face.

Abigail arched her backside into his swelling arousal, causing a soft groan to catch against her neck as Will pushed and ground his erection along her thigh. Dizzy with need, he sucked at her pulse and peeled her damp panties from her lithe frame, using a finger to trace several tight, brisk little circles around her clit. “Do you know how long it’s been?” Will rasped. With his lips at her ear, he turned Abigail’s head so that he could lick at her mouth, his fingers now stroking between her legs more strongly.

Abigail made aborted little sounds into the bed as he played with her body. “How long...?” She asked shakily, his total control of her body allowed her to stop worrying. Her mind was blank save for the sensation of pleasure he was giving her.

“Too long," he growled. Still circling her clit, Will gently bit down on her neck and groped at her supple curves, his breath coming out white-hot against her skin as her soft, pitiful mewling noises filled him with need. Each jerk of his hand drew her hips in closely against him and he quaked, weak with want as he brushed against her. Skating along her spine with his free hand, Will pressed his hand against the nape of Abigail’s neck and forced her cheek into the bedding, his breath coming out fast and hard as he began to grind himself against her. The warm, wet slickness that greeted him made him suck a breath and he exhaled, still holding onto her as he promised, “I'm not going to fuck you, Abigail...I just want to feel you.”

Having her warm and bare-skinned beneath him was nearly too much. He raised his hand to her chin, panting hotly against her lips as their mouths aligned. "I can still stop," he reminded her. "Tell me to stop, and I will."

He was achingly close to entering her and although it was deeply arousing she was a little scared. “D-don’t stop...keep...touching me but I’m...I’m not ready for...more.” She said breathlessly as she pushed back into his capable touch.

Abigail’s plea made him waver and slow his hand. She was frightened... How could he be so selfish?

"Alright," he gently assured her. "This will be all we do." Between her legs, his hand began again more persistently, his thumb toying with her sensitive clit as his middle and index finger rubbed along her tight opening. He breached her once more, sliding in to his knuckles as he opened and flexed his fingers. His movements this time were careful and deliberate instead of fast and forceful.

Entranced by her erotic expressions and sounds, Will watched Abigail intently as he rocked his hand into her heat, his forehead pressing into hers as he hovered his lips over her gasping mouth. With her skin flushed and her tight little cunt gripping at his fingers, he yearned to replace his hand with his cock and get her to straddle him. Beneath their writhing bodies, the old, weathered mattress creaked maddeningly, and Will lifted Abigail’s chin so that she could look at him over her shoulder. His lips crashed into hers as he groaned and licked at her giving mouth.

Abigail was hazily aware that he seemed abashed all of a sudden but she couldn't think about that now. Pinned as she was in that position, all she could do was let him make her come. He might have worried about taking but he wasn't taking, he was giving and there was nothing she could do about it. That thought alone pushed her closer to climax as he worked his hand to get her there.

“Fuck…” He shuddered, curling against her almost possessively as her insides massaged and gripped at his fingers. He rolled his cock in between her damp thighs, his lips moving to her neck as he pressed a series of deep, open-mouthed kisses along her shivering skin. When in the throes of her undoing from the night before, Abigail had looked so peaceful and sated, and he’d never before seen such pure contentment in her eyes. He never wanted to see her look sad and broken again.

Will’s grazing teeth and teasing lips made Abigail shiver with lust – she was simply not mentally ready for more, not here, not like this. Her body on the other hand was like a taut string that he was undoubtedly going to snap. His fingers pushed and stroked and rubbed so perfectly and her cries grew higher, desperate almost. "Will...please...oh fuck.” She panted as her orgasm began to build.

Abigail’s eyes were bright and blue as she eased herself around him, his fingers flexing deep inside her as he watched her wet, greedy cunt get fed with his harsh movements. Abigail mewled, and then Will lunged for her, yanking on her hair and crashing his mouth bruisingly into hers to silence her. He captured her muffled cries between his kiss, pausing long enough to whisper a soft, “Shh-shh.” They couldn’t be too loud, lest someone file a complaint.

"You're almost there," he whispered. He could feel sporadic little spasms as he diligently stroked her insides. "C'mon, Abby...get off on me, come on my fingers."

Abigail wanted nothing more than for him to draw it out of her, and he did. Will was relentless in his ministrations until at long last, Abigail tensed, making a desperate sound against his lips as she came hard with a shudder under him, fingers digging tightly into the bedding and moaning harshly into his mouth. Will continuing to rub briskly at her clit as he devoured her sharp, muffled cries. Feeling her clench and spasm around his driving fingers, he dutifully thrust into her orgasm until he knew she was sated.

Disengaging with much difficulty, Will got a frantic hold on himself and began to pump his swollen, aching cock. Clenching his teeth, he reached over and touched Abigail's thigh with one hand, then fiercely pulled on himself with the other. His head spun as he directed his gaze toward the ceiling. Breathless and with his bangs plastered to his forehead, he managed to say, "I...I'll just be a moment."

Abigail was confused at Will's words, and with his hold on her loosened she twisted back, onto her side to look at him. She frowned a little then did something she wouldn't have had the courage to do if she wasn't still drunk on endorphins. She reached out and tugged gently on his wrist to still it, encouraging him to lay down with her. "C'mere." She breathed.

When Abigail rolled over to look at him, Will closed his eyes and released an even, shaking breath. He arched into the bedding and grit his teeth, his chest heaving shallowly as his hand worked more briskly between his legs. That was when Abigail laid a hand over his jerking arm. He paused in his rough movements, now opening his eyes and glancing her way. Her voice had grown sultry, and in spite of his better judgment, he found himself rolling in toward her, his hand still working slowly in between his thighs.

"You don't have to do anything for me," he whispered.

Abigail laid a hand over the one he was using to get himself off and gazed imploringly back at him. "No...but I want to. Show me how to make you feel good too." She whispered.

"Abigail, I..." She cut him off with a gentle kiss, causing him to swallow back his words of denial. He knew then that he could never deny her anything.

After placing a sweet kiss on his lips she looked into his eyes. "I don't like when you act like we're doing something wrong.” She admitted, feeling blissful and honest. She nudged his hand out of the way.

But it was wrong. Or at least, deep down, Will knew the moral part of him was struggling with this new, unexpected development. He believed he was taking advantage, what with his sense of authority, but Abigail was tugging on his wrist and he found it increasingly difficult to speak – to say no.

With his eyes lifting to hers, Will released a breath and curled her hand around his length, a soft groan catching in his throat as he held fast to her wrist. Encouraging her to move more briskly, he showed her the speeds and pressure he preferred, his breath catching white-hot between their lips as he watched her from across the pillow. Edging his cheek into the scratchy fabric, Will laid there gasping for breath, clutching at Abigail’s waist as he felt the all too familiar ache building up inside him.

Abigail felt triumphant as he gave in to her, and taught her how to touch him. She watched his face in awe as it was her hand that brought him that pleasure. She had no idea if he was particularly well endowed but it was certainly thicker than even three of his fingers, and so unbelievably hard. She was filled with nervous anticipation about eventually taking him inside her and how it would feel.

"Abby, I...I'm going to...I..." Will’s eyelids fluttered at the sensation and he jerked, barely able to get the words out. Burying his face into her shoulder, his grip grew bruising over her hand as he began to propel her touch more forcefully. He could feel himself leaking against her stomach and his breath hitched, his blunt nails digging into her skin as he bit down on her shoulder to muffle his cries. He thrust between the tight ring of her fingers, and then it was over, his body tensing up like a piano wire as he emptied himself with several sharp, ecstatic shivers.

"Abby..." he murmured, nuzzling into her neck. He felt tired and sated, and with her perfect softness nestled into his front, he cradled her against him almost reverently. This wasn't wrong. It wasn't. How could it be when he finally felt acceptance and calm? When he didn't have to explain things to Abigail, because she knew – she just knew – what it was like first-hand.

When he came, Abigail was almost gasping along with him, feeling oddly powerful that she did that to him. That she could make him feel like he did her. Abigail had no idea what to say once they were twined together in the afterglow.

With his face pressed into her hair, Will suddenly chuckled. "Perhaps I shouldn't have been so quick to get my shower... I could've used it now, instead." Rolling away from her, Will gathered a handful of tissues from the nightstand, then almost ruefully wiped their mingled fluids from Abigail's slit, thighs, and stomach. "In books and movies, they make sex seem clean and perfect. I'd wanted to warn you, but I couldn't quite get the words out."

Tossing the soiled tissues into the trash, Will curled an arm around Abigail's shoulders and pulled her up to rest beneath his chin, his chest shallowly rising and falling as he stared up at the popcorn ceiling. Outside, the neon glow from the hotel bathed their bodies in fluorescent colours. Idly, he drew his thumb across Abigail’s shoulder, half expecting the pinks and greens to smear across her skin.

"We can get up early tomorrow," he murmured. "We'll drive out to that lake, put your mother to rest, and then camp wherever you wish on the grounds. Perhaps there, we could..." He trailed off, absently stroking her hair. "Never mind. There's no need to force anything."

Abigail raised her head to rest on her hand which lay on his chest. She smiled, a mixture of coy and appreciative. She had an inkling what he had been going to say but was truly glad he had chosen to let it be.

“Sounds like a good plan.” She said quietly, marvelling at how soft and sexy he looked like this, then had a momentary freak out that this man was in bed with her, it seemed so unrealistic. She laid back down before it showed on her face, she didn’t want to spoil it. Not yet.

Chapter Text

The Hobbs home loomed above them like a weary, sagging phantasm, and Will felt his knuckles tense as he followed after Abigail from the car. His pulse thudded in his ears and he swallowed back bile. No matter what he did, it seemed that he couldn't escape Hobbs. Presently, the ghosts weren't whispering in his ear, but being physically in the place where both of their lives changed was unsettling.

 

Abigail took a deep, shaky breath as she stepped out of the rental car and walked towards the house she grew up in. She looked to Will for reassurance and then slowly went to unlock the door.

 

Wandering into the hall, she was shocked at how much it was just...home. The same as it had always been and yet entirely different for the painful memory it now held. It was bizarre. It should look scary or something but she didn’t even have to try to picture her parents here, her old dog, her childhood, her whole life. She also knew there were tons of pictures of her family here, and she had a sneaking suspicion she would find the name of the park there.

 

“I’m going upstairs...I need to find some photos and pack some more clothes.” She smiled weakly at him. “You can come with me if you like.” She rather hoped he would.

 

Will offered a feeble smile. He needed to be strong for her, no matter how much his skin crawled. "I'll join you," he agreed. "That sounds like a bit of a daunting task, so it wouldn't hurt to lend a hand. Besides..." He lightly touched her back as they headed upstairs. "I'm very curious about the girl you used to be. Maybe this will give me a small peek."

 

Abigail laughed helplessly – she wasn’t sure if that was a good thing at all, considering, but she forced herself to return his warm look. Her fear that he would despise her, that it would all be over, if he found out what she had done was back with a vengeance. She eyed him, noting how tense he was under his words, and remembered him saying he was forever seeing her dad. Likely he could see him here. How could he not see her?!

 

She took him to her parents’ closet first. “The albums are in here.” She explained and began to dig them out.

 

"This was your parents' room?" Will felt oddly out of place standing there, almost as if he were on unholy ground. Abigail only nodded.

 

Flexing his hands at his sides, he hesitated until Abigail invited him inside. She set to work on unearthing albums from the closet, and in spite of his hesitance, curiosity overruled his reservations and he stepped alongside her. Genuflecting by the box, he watched Abigail flip through the album with a slight smile. "Am I going to get to see any naked baby pictures? Those are kind of a rite of passage, especially the classic ones taken on the toilet. Fortunately, my mom didn't give a damn about me, so I wasn't subjected to that torture. My dad did give a damn, but he couldn't be bothered with pictures."

 

Abigail shot him another sad, slightly worried look at his blunt and emotionless statement of his mother's disinterest. Poor little Will... She knitted her brow but said nothing.

 

Abigail moved quickly through pictures, trying to discern the time period in their family's history at a glance without having to look to long at her mother or father's faces. This was no time to break down – she would either look pathetic or confess everything. Either way, Will would be repelled.

 

With his hand falling to the small of Abigail's back, Will began to lightly rub and stroke as a form of comfort. Vaguely, it occurred to him how displeased Hobbs would be if he knew what was going on under his own roof – that his own daughter had brought his killer back to their shared home. Will was startled by the amount of pleasure that brought him.

 

"I don't know about naked, but I guess my weirdness is well documented." She said as she removed and shyly handed him a random selection showing her as a baby and a little girl, if anything just to keep him distracted from her rising panic.

 

Will flashed her a sly smile. "Giving me blackmail, are you? Can't wait to see what I can use to my advantage." Holding the first photo up for his perusal, Will's smile turned warm and soft when he beheld the wide-eyed, chubby-cheeked sweetness of Abigail as a baby. "There's no cereal bowl on your head, but it'll do," he teased.

 

As he continued to flip through, it occurred to him that this age might have been the last time Abigail was truly, genuinely happy. It made his stomach turn. Once he was halfway through the stack, Will saw one where Abigail was hugging a black lab around the neck. "Beautiful dog..." He trailed off, not wishing to put more thoughts of grief in her head. Instead, he placed his hand back on her shoulder, leaning in to press a kiss to her temple. "Do you want to keep all of these? I can put them in the duffel bag I brought."

 

Abigail blushed at Will's gooey expression. "Thanks." She said awkwardly. "But I'm not fussed about keeping them to be honest. All this will still be here when I eventually have to do something with the house." She explained, trying to seem chilled about this fact as she spoke, not lifting her gaze from the albums.

 

"Fair enough," Will agreed. "But if you change your mind, just let me know." Watching Abigail as she whisked through her photos, she finally lit up when she found what she was looking for.

 

In the third album she found the picture she had seen in her memory. Her mother in a green sundress and her little kid self in a 'Little Mermaid' bathing suit. Abigail ran her fingers over it and then slipped it out of its place. "Mom and Abi age 7 - Harrington Beach State Park." She read aloud what was scrawled in pencil on the back, finally looking up into Will's eyes.

 

Peering over her shoulder, he had to chuckle. "We won't be recreating that photo, right? 'Cause I hate to say it, but I doubt I could fill out that sundress quite as well as your mom. And if you have a Little Mermaid bathing suit that fits, I'll be extra curious about your lifestyle." Giving her a squeeze around the middle to show he'd been teasing, Will committed the park name to memory and nodded. "Looks like we'll be in for another plane ride, so if that's alright with you, I can book the flight as soon as we leave."

 

Abigail gave him a withering look despite her agitation. "Funnily enough I don't have one." She said, growing irrationally irritated with him simply due to the fact that he was acting so normal. He was so ok and happy and she was worrying herself sick that she was going to ruin it and lose him too. "That's fine, I'll be in my room packing, it's at the end of the hall." She stood with a tight smile.

 

Will's warmth finally faltered. Abigail was angry with him. Perhaps it had been inappropriate for him to make jokes at such an important time for her, yet he hadn't wanted to add to the doom and gloom that settled beneath the floorboards. "Alright," he softly agreed. "While you do that, I can book the flight."

 

Abigail walked off, clearly still in a mood, and it occurred to him then how young she was. He was a fool to believe otherwise. She hadn't experienced enough to know how to properly handle herself, and he ached for her. His inability to sooth was not welcome in that moment. Rising from off the floor, Will sighed and called the nearest airport.

 

After ordering a couple tickets to Wisconsin, he tentatively found himself heading into Abigail's room. In spite of himself, he felt as if he were walking on holy ground. This room – this cozy space – was where the girl of his deepest obsessions had slept, hoped and dreamed, amongst other things... More than likely holing herself up in order to escape the frightening transformation of her father. If she had noticed, of course.

 

Abigail had packed underwear, stuff to sleep in etc. from her drawers and was just opening her closet to get some ‘proper’ clothes. “Hi.” She said when Will appeared, picking up some different shoes to avoid the obvious thought that struck her – Will was in her bedroom. Given that they had already gotten intimate, she was nervous about his presence here. Not only because of that but also she was a little embarrassed about the eclectic mix of little girl stuff and real Abigail stuff that decorated the place.

 

Clearing his throat, Will offered a sheepish smile. "Anything I can do to help?"

 

“I’m fine but you can sit with me if you want.” She said, sharp and distracted.

 

"Alright." Pleased by the invite, Will fully entered the room and pulled a chair from her desk, slowly having a seat as he watched Abigail go through her belongings.

 

"I booked our flight. It's scheduled for four hours from now, so you can take a little extra time here, if need be," he announced. Folding his hands in between his knees, he watched her movements with a smile. "Find anything that may be of interest to me? A secret diary, perhaps?" In truth, he was curious about her entire upbringing and wanted to know her – the real her, no matter how small the details.

 

When it soon became evident that Abigail wouldn't be answering his commentary, Will sighed and directed his gaze out her bedroom window. He was being selfish. This was about her, and yet he couldn't help but yearn to know more, and have her show him more. But the longer this expedition went on, the more obvious it was that he would not be getting any untold stories about her childhood.

 

Abigail was barely listening as she flicked through the clothes hanging on her rail. The seemingly innocuous garments may as well have been ghosts themselves. That was the top she was wearing on the train with Elise Nichols. Those had been brand new jeans that she could never bring herself to wear again, after a droplet of the second girl's blood got on them. This was her green hunting gilet that she was wearing the day her dad first made her shoot a doe and start conditioning her to be ok with murder… She gripped the edge of the hanger and stood, haunted and frozen, as the panic began to fully take hold of her.

 

As Will sat in silence, he gave a start when Abigail’s arm jerked hard on a sweater. Her posture was tense and stiff, her hands gripping a hanger between her hands so tightly that he thought it might snap.

 

"Abigail?" Rising from his chair, he felt a twinge of unease as he laid a hand against the small of her back. "Hey, what's wrong, huh?" He tried to keep his voice soft and steady, almost as if he were assuaging a wild animal.

 

Abigail wanted to shove him away – literally and metaphorically – but she couldn't move. The terrified, guilty tears started prickling at the back of her eyes as her face threatened to crumple.

 

"ME!" She suddenly exclaimed. "I'm what's wrong!" She ripped the gilet from its place and threw it down. She did the same with the top, then the stained jeans and in turn all the other bits she could see that silently taunted her. She didn't even care if Will thought she was crazy, she barely spared a thought for his presence at all as she lost it.

 

Will flinched. Despite the fact her behavior could be chalked up as grief, or perhaps even teenage angst, there was something jarring and manic about her movements that caused him to take a step back. "Abigail, I know you might feel like you're the problem, but-" She cut him off, tossing her garments onto the floor in furious, frenzied bursts. He didn't bother to intervene.

 

'Be whatever she needs,' his mind cajoled. Drawing a breath, he tried again, "What I mean is, it's natural to feel guilt for your father's crimes. You loved him and felt close to him, and therefore you feel guilty for not being able to see the signs."

 

Abigail rounded on him then, her shrieks nearly hysterical as she screamed at him. "Don't you see? Can't you of all people, tell that I'm a monster?" She shrieked, her rage about the fact it was all lies – all ruined – now aimed towards him.

 

A lump formed in Will's throat and he shook his head, his brows drawing together in bewilderment. "You're not a monster," he said. "What happened to those girls is not your fault, Abigail." There was a pleading, needy look reflected in her eyes, but Will refused to look at that desperate cry for help. She was confused. She was innocent. He didn't know why he needed to believe it so badly, but she just was.

 

Abigail dropped her gaze to the floor as the tears of despair finally spilled over. There would be no easy way around this now, Will had made sure of that. "But it was my fault..." She sobbed, barely audible. "I was the lure." She breathed, staring at Will from under wet lashes.

 

"Stop it." The words were out before Will could stop them, and he flinched, a disbelieving laugh catching in his throat as he shook his head. Abigail was wrong. She was confused. As many times as he'd gone over the crime scene with Jack, he knew Abigail hadn't helped her father.

 

Had she?

 

Dizzily, Will's mind whirred and taunted, reminding him of all the blanks he'd purposely left unfilled. This wasn't right. He was dreaming.

 

Abigail entreated him with her eyes, almost as if she were screaming 'seemepleasegodseeme,' but he couldn't. Not yet. And, as with what typically happened when his delusions were shattered, Will felt his temper flare. "If you're going to continue playing games with me, we'll leave," he warned. "I'm not certain what you're trying to achieve here, but it's not helping matters."

 

Abigail snapped. She pushed him backwards, not expecting much to happen given their difference in size but needing to punish him for his reaction. For even thinking that she would make that up, when all she needed was to have her confession heard. To unburden herself. To throw it all at him like missiles and see what happened.

 

Abigail's palms collided with his chest, harshly, but not enough to make Will teeter. His gaze hardened and he tensed his fists. "Stop it," he hissed. Cruelly, he backed away from her, holding up his hands as she tried to confess.

 

"How could you say that?" She said incredulously. "He made me...made me talk to them, find out stuff...I had to do it so he wouldn't kill me. He ruined my life, ruined me, and you think I'd pretend about it?!" Her knees gave out and she moved to sit heavily on her bed, eyes wide and staring down at the carpet, unseeing, as she recalled all the awful memories she'd been hiding.

 

Trembling, Will shook his head. "Why would I ask that?" he echoed, laughing in spite of himself. "Dr. Bloom says you have a penchant for manipulation – that you only exhibit what is necessary to survive. What if this is one of those moments? What if...?" He trailed off, choking on the words.

 

This was real. Will could hear it, and yet he still wouldn't allow himself to see it. Abigail sank down but somehow, Will couldn't find it in himself to comfort her. Not this time. His heart ached and his head pounded, though he no longer knew if he was feeling sorry for Abigail or for himself. His pure, untouchable fantasy was now a rotting mess at his feet.

 

Abigail's tears turned to resentment for how he was taking this. Hannibal had simply listened, held her and assured her it was all her father's and not her fault. He had helped her and Will had failed her – her understanding, kind hero was turning on her just as she had feared.

 

Abigail decided she wasn't going to show him any of it, lest he see how needy she felt at this moment. She could just keep it down like everything else. She didn't look up, didn't cry any more or plead with him. She simply sat, mourning the loss of...whatever they had.

 

When Abigail neither denied nor affirmed Will's accusations, he began to pace. Raking a hand through his hair, he breathed in through his nose and out through his mouth, trembling as bile burned along the tip of his tongue. Finally, he stopped in front of the window.

 

"How long?" he weakly asked. "How long did he…make you help him?" Eyes dark and despondent, Will placed a hand against the windowsill and swallowed the lump in his throat. He didn't know why he'd idealized Abigail. He didn't know why he'd held her to an unfair expectation, placing her on a pedestal and looking to her as something that needed to be saved. Because she didn't, did she? This damsel in distress had teeth.

 

Abigail still didn't look at him but somehow managed to keep her voice from shaking too much, since she herself was shaking as she recounted it. "The whole time. I found out where they lived...they could have been my friends...and then he would...." Abigail took a huge shuddering breath that sounded more like a sob. "I don't even know all he did, that's why he had the cabin, but I knew if I didn't help he'd kill me.” There was more – there was Nick Boyle and how it had made her feel good, but she waited to see how he would react. Terrified, but in a sick way relieved to have said it.

 

Will listened in bitter silence, feeling shamed by the relief he felt at hearing that she wasn't complicit. It hadn't been her fault. Hobbs had made Abigail kill – Will had been right in the fact it wasn't an intentional joint effort.

 

Still facing the window, he exhaled and looked down at his feet. "Legally speaking, I should say something," he said. "What you've done, regardless of your intent, was a crime. People are dead now...but it also isn't your fault. Hobbs was sick, and he didn't know how else to abate his torment, so he had you help. No one can blame you for choosing yourself over those girls."

 

"If he just killed me in the first place, or maybe if I never existed, he wouldn't have killed any of them." She said barely above a whisper.

 

Slowly, Will turned away from the window and grimaced. "Don't say that," he pleaded. "I know it feels like it's true, but you have no guarantee that your father would have stopped with your death. When someone is that sick – when someone is that lost – there’s no telling if there will even be a stopping point. And in my experience, there's no sense in making yourself sick with the painful 'what ifs'?"

 

Sinking down to his knees, he reached out and cupped Abigail's face in his hands, lifting her chin so that he could gaze into her tearful eyes. "You're important to me, and I'm not going to let anything happen to you. The world doesn't need to know you helped your father." Gently brushing the tears from her cheeks, Will swallowed the lump in his throat and forced a smile. "When we met, I made an unspoken vow to protect you... To be there for you and be whatever you needed. And right now, I know you need time to heal. We can help one another."

 

 

Abigail tried to accept his reassurance, though it felt fraudulent to her not to blame herself. Abigail looked up into Will's soft grey-ish eyes as he told her she had nothing to worry about. She lowered her gaze sheepishly. "Hannibal did say you'd keep my secret, but I don't see how someone like me can help you. You’re the guy who said killing was the ugliest thing in the world." Abigail sniffed.

 

Brushing his thumb along her cheek, Will suddenly grew stock-still with Abigail's words. "Hannibal knows?" Of course he does. Why would he have expected Abigail to trust him first? Why would he expect the girl he'd orphaned to come to the man who'd killed her father? Nevertheless, it didn't make it any less of a bitter pill to swallow, and Will numbly dropped his hands from her face.

 

When Will's demeanour hardened at the mention of Dr. Lecter, she watched him disengage from her with a frown. "He figured it out. I don't know how to lie to him anymore...I don't know why...so what else could I do?" She explained desperately. Clearly, she and Hannibal were just soulless monsters and Will was too pure to be dragged into their mess.

 

Will rolled his eyes toward the ceiling, considering this. Hannibal had an almost supernatural ability to read people. Even when they'd first met, Lecter had been able to scope out the deepest, innermost portions of himself, and had forced Will to face what he had spent so many years avoiding. Hannibal knew just about everything there was to know about people.

 

But Abigail didn't trust him. Or at least, not enough to have felt safe to come to him right at the beginning. And apparently, Hannibal didn't trust him either. Their shutting him out spoke volumes, and the bitterness churned disagreeably in his stomach. “You didn't have to lie to me," Will lowly said. "Unless this..." He gestured impatiently between them. "...was all just a ruse? Something to keep me blind to your true nature?" The words curdled in his throat like sour milk. "There are many ugly things in this world," he coolly said. "And killing someone is definitely one of them."

 

Abigail felt a new wave of tears threatening and fought them. "I must be messed up like I thought, then, because I didn't feel ugly...when...when I killed Nick Boyle." She whispered, her next confession tumbling out in a soft rush.

 

Will wanted to shout at her – denounce her – but Will's own demons reminded him of his own hypocrisy. "I liked killing your father," he spat out. Despite the potential solidarity in his admission, Will knew he was saying it to be cruel more than conciliatory. He was still rankled that his pure, perfect vision had been tarnished.

 

Abigail's gaze snapped up to his face. "You felt good?" She asked hopefully, whatever sting his words held diluted by the fact she wasn't the only morally grey one in the room. “That's why it was so easy to lie about it...at first.” She nodded in silent agreement and understanding.

 

Will's jaw tensed, but he nodded. "Killing your father felt like stopping evil in its tracks...for a moment, I got to play God. And that felt just and righteous." There had been no plan to kill Hobbs – it had just happened. Regardless of his true intentions, it was a conflicting soup of emotions, for no matter how good it had felt, he was also haunted by his guilty conscience on a daily basis.

 

“Exactly...andthis..." She mocked his earlier gesture. "...only made me think you got it. That you got me. Now I just feel ugly, like a monster, and you probably think that about me too. You probably think that I'm stained just like this house, like the kitchen down there." She was on her feet again, breathing hard and gesturing at the floor and the room below where it all started.

 

Abigail's words gave him pause. Expression hardening, Will stared back at her in bemusement. "What do you mean, this made you think I understood? What do lust and animal instinct have to do with murder?” Stepping toward her, his breath grew sharp in his lungs and he tensed his fists.

 

"Isn't lust a hunt of its own? An instinct? Stalk and lure." She whispered. Was he for real?

 

Her words made his stomach roil. "Are you equating our relationship to your involvement with those girls?" he coolly asked. "A person is only a monster if they enjoy hurting – killing people – as a whole. Are you saying you liked helping with those girls too, Abigail? Now with Boyle, I can understand – hell, I don't want to understand, but I do – getting rid of him was almost like freeing yourself from your father's oppression. He took hold of you, and you said 'no more.' But those girls?" Will laughed humorlessly. "They were innocent. Are you telling me that you delighted in their deaths, too?" Reaching out a hand, Will wrapped a lock of Abigail's hair around his fingers and tugged, feeling an odd sense of relief at seeing the panic in her eyes. "Does it give you pleasure to inflict pain?"

 

Abigail stared at him, horrified but truly transfixed and unable to move. Had she got him completely wrong? Was he a true killer, the copycat? Was he going to hurt her – kill her – after all that? She was frozen in his grip. "N-no?" She said, confused by the mere suggestion. "I told you, he made me do it. And Nick...he...I felt nothing and then guilt. I just thought you felt the same way about...taking a life, th-that's all, but..." She swallowed.

 

The anger still festered in Will's veins, making his grip shake in her hair. Though the moment Abigail tilted her wide, fearful eyes to his, something in his vindictive resolve crumbled, and his grip turned into something less firm and controlling. "I don't know what I feel," he bit out. And that was what terrified him. To be in control, and then suddenly out of control, was his reality these days. He felt adrift, anchorless, and the realization that his one true hope was nothing but a blight had been the tipping point.

 

Loosening his grip in her hair, Will felt Abigail's breath on his neck as she spoke. "Are you trying to lure and stalk me?" Again, his hand began to tremble, but this time he took hold of her chin. He wanted to obliterate her darkness, to wipe her clean, to fuck the ugliness out of her pristine shell. "What's your instinct telling you now?” he lowly asked.

 

Abigail allowed herself to feel it for a moment, the dark tension curling itself between them, but it was too much. She ripped herself free of him and stood, breathless and freaked out, as she stared at him from a safer distance. “That you’re disgusted by us, that’s what! Or maybe just by me, now that I told you all that.” She spoke more honestly than usual, as though his weird behaviour had shocked the truth out of her. “I think I remind you of my father and I’m messed up.”

 

Abigail had broken away from him, but Will did not pursue. He remained in place, his eyes flashing as she began hurling her accusations. "You don't remind me of your dad," he assured her. "You're not sick...not in the way he was. You've just been weaned on poison, but there is an antidote to that." Taking a low, cleansing breath, he added, "You remind me of darker tendencies – of what I could become."

 

“Dark?” She repeated. So that was what he thought of what they had done. Something bad he didn’t want to be consumed by. “I knew it. You’re messed up too – if anything you’ve been the lure – but that’s not even the point! I thought you wanted us to help each other?”

 

A cynical smile stretched Will's lips, and he found himself growing angry again. “I'm the lure?" he echoed, disbelief etching his tired features. "I never intended to seduce or abuse you, Abigail. I gave you a place to stay because I care. I opened my home to you because I want you to feel safe and loved. But evidently, you view my attempts as nefarious and underhanded. If that's how you feel, then you don't have to stay with me. You don't have to be in my life. And given how helpless and out of control we are when around one another, maybe that would be the best course of action."

 

“I never said you abused me, but maybe this is the darkness you mean...making everything sound so twisted and awful.” She said, appalled, gesturing weakly at him, stunned that he would take her words that way. That he was so loathe to become...whatever he felt he was becoming with her. “Making me feel awful.” But then she was awful...wasn’t she?

 

Lifting his shaking hands, Will showed off the bloody half-moons his nails had sunk into his palms. "I could have done that to you," he hissed. "Don't you get it? I may have control of myself where you're concerned, but it also might not last. Because yes, you're right – we're both messed up, and our parasitic dynamic is all the proof we need."

 

Abigail squinted at him, aghast and hurt so acutely she felt the air leave her lungs. “Don’t bother. Just go.” She hissed.

 

Will gave a tight little nod. "Very well. I'll go. Here's money for a cab." Pulling out a handful of crumpled bills from his pocket, he tossed them at her feet and stepped around her. It felt as if there was a tight, aching blockage in his throat, but he didn't turn around. Abigail already made him weak. If he gave in now, he would only be further sucked under her influence. He did, however, pause in the doorway. "There should be enough for a plane ticket, too... Hopefully food as well. Or if things get desperate, maybe you can just find some other naive fool who'll be lured in by your siren song. You're quite good at that."

 

Though the words were intended to maim her, Will felt the shrapnel of his vitriol graze his own heart. Shaking his head, he mumbled, "Goodbye, Abigail. I'm sorry I couldn't be what you needed."

 

She watched horrified but frozen as he gave her money and was gone. She felt dirty then, like she had prostituted herself since it was all for nothing, and that he was even suggesting she might as well just do it again. Abigail’s heart was pounding fit to burst when she realised he was actually leaving. She didn’t want that, she was just so incensed by his saying those things and lashing out.

 

Oh god, she was alone and paralysed with fear. How could he have done this to her after all he said?! Abigail was as furious as she was distraught, and stood for what may have been 10 seconds or 10 minutes before the shock lifted. She threw herself on her bed and sobbed.

 

After the tears had dried up it was mid-afternoon and Abigail was at a complete loss. She looked around the room, wondering how it had all gone so wrong, so fast and then immediately scolding herself. She had known full well that confessing would mess everything up and here it was – her fears had proved justified.

 

She was too hot and uncomfortable so she shed her jacket and wandered around her room, accidentally stepping on the money Will had tossed at her. Abigail glared at the pile and that settled it. She called Hannibal.

 

"Can I see you?" She asked, trying to sound normal.

 

"Hello, Abigail...you don’t sound yourself, but I appreciate the call, given I don't usually get any advanced warning of your visits. Unfortunately I have patients until 7pm and guests for dinner after that." He replied, almost managing to sound apologetic. There was evidently something wrong with the girl but it really wasn’t a good time.

 

Abigail remembered with irritation that she was in Minnesota anyway and didn't know if she was quite ready to leave, to go back to reality and put an end to this whole sad situation. "Tomorrow then? Please?" She didn't want to talk to anyone else about this.

 

"Tomorrow." He agreed, and they hung up.

 

What now? She tried to watch TV, tried to pack more things and sort through her stuff, but all the time she was just hoping Will would show up again and berating herself for it. She didn't want to leave the house in case he came back... Pathetic she told herself, just to keep from crying again.

 

*

 

Leaving Abigail behind had been the hardest thing Will had ever done. No matter how much he reassured himself, no matter how good he convinced himself this was for the both of them, his abandonment stung in the back of his mind like a rankling sore. He was a hypocrite. He was a monster. After all these years, he'd sworn he would never abandon someone in the way his mother had – that he would never leave because things became difficult. So what would he call this? Glowering down into his half-empty whiskey, Will slid a twenty toward the bartender and indicated another.

 

"Rough night, pal?"

 

He snorted. "What, so is that the go-to catchphrase for bartenders? Is it your job to quote every cliché in the book?"

 

"Shit, sorry for lending an ear." Rolling his eyes, the middle-aged man filled up another glass and slid it toward Will. "It may be cliché, but in this business, we're supposed to be personal. Quite frankly, I don't give a shit about your troubles, but it sure beats the boredom."

 

Will paused, appreciating the honesty. It was so rare to find people who would unabashedly give the truth. This was why, in spite of his reservations, his shoulders slumped and he nodded. "Right...understandable. I'm sure you get a lot of broken hearts in here."

 

"Is that what ails you too, bud?"

 

"Isn't that what ails everyone?” Grudgingly, Will took a sip of whiskey. "I made a difficult decision tonight...I'm sure it's for the best, but it definitely doesn't feel that way at the moment."

 

"Over a woman?"

 

Will considered this, thinking of Abigail and her stinging, tearful eyes. She was a woman, and yet barely more than a child. What had he done? She had to be lost and confused and heartbroken, unsure of what she'd done to deserve being cast off like a leper. Raking a hand through his hair, Will shook his head and rose from the stool. "I, uh...excuse me," he stammered. Without waiting for a reply, he bustled around to the back of the bar and stood by the bathrooms, his finger trembling as he began to dial Abigail's number.

 

Raising the phone to his ear, Will listened as it rang once, twice, three times. "C'mon, c'mon," he muttered, "pick up…" She was probably ignoring him. As lost and confused as she might be, Will knew she was just as stubborn as he was. She might never wish to speak with him again…

 

Eventually Abigail had gotten too hungry and ordered pizza, slamming the door on the delivery guy before there were any awkward questions about the house he had no doubt seen on the news. She ate two and a half slices and was just shoving the almost full box away from her, when her phone lit up with Will's number.

 

Abigail stared at it. Her instinct told her to answer it, even if it was just to rip him a new one, but she couldn't make her hand pick it up. She waited with her heart in her mouth until it went to voicemail by itself and she could breathe again.

 

Call back...please. If you call back, you care about me. She begged childishly inside her head. When it was obvious he wasn't calling back, she went to climb into her old bed. Maybe it would all turn out to be a bad dream, if she ever got to sleep that is.

 

Suddenly, she got a text and held her phone up to her face. He had left her a voicemail. That one little bubble was taunting her, burning itself onto her retinas in the darkness. Abigail wanted to hear it but also, she didn't. After everything that had happened between them, she simply had to know, and she nervously called her mailbox...

 

When prompted to leave a voicemail, Will felt his heart sink. Abigail had to be ignoring him. But could he truly hold it against her? Hell, he would ignore him. As painful as it had been to hear, she had confessed to him – she'd finally trusted him enough to speak – and yet he'd cast her aside and proven her fears correct. Feeling nauseated at the thought, Will drew a breath and heard the phone beep.

 

"Oh, uh...Abigail..." He cleared his throat. "This is Will Graham." Were they truly back to formalities?  "I just...I wanted to apologize for earlier. It was wrong of me to just...it was wrong for me to leave you behind. Even though it's what you'd requested, I should've figured out that it wasn't what you'd really wanted."

 

Someone walked by to use the bathroom and Will stiffened, lowering his voice to achieve more privacy. "I just...I miss you, and I'm sorry. Maybe we can talk? In Maryland? Because you're probably long gone by now, if I had to guess... Not that I could blame you." His heart sank. "I just wanted you to know that I don't care any less. I know my reaction was over the top, and...and cruel, but...I needed time to process everything. Because you were right. We're not so different, and I think that's why I reacted so poorly. I'm sorry." Hanging up, Will rested his forehead against the phone a moment, straightened, then headed back toward the front.

 

"Everything taken care of?" the bartender asked.

 

With a huff, Will muttered, "More or less. Thanks for the drinks," and headed outside.

 

*

 

Will had booked a flight returning to Virginia not long after, and it wasn't until he was up in the air, trapped with his thoughts, that he realized he'd left Abigail alone with her mother's ashes. A strangled noise caught in his throat and he ducked his face into his hands, overcome by shame and self-loathing. How could he have been so cruel? How could he have been so goddamn selfish that he'd forgotten the entire point of this whole trip?

 

"I'm so sorry," he whispered. He knew Abigail couldn't hear him, but he hoped and prayed that she could somehow feel his sincerity. He had never intended to hurt her. Perhaps for a quick, pride-injured moment he had sought to injure her with sharp words, but that had faded away shortly after the fog had cleared from his mind. Miserably reclining in his seat, Will tried to calm his breathing enough to (hopefully) get some rest.

 

*

 

Abigail listened to Will's message. Then she listened again, and again. Six times in total she heard his words. Over and over, until silent tears were sliding down her face into her pillow. Sure, he was sorry, he was just as perfectly and eloquently sorry as she wanted him to be, but he wasn't there. She had no idea where he was.

 

Although she was far from afraid of being alone – she had often wandered the woods at night without much thought to her safety – the night just seemed bigger and lonelier as she huddled under the pink patterned comforter from her old life. He had condemned her to this, but as resentful as she was, she knew she would probably relent if it meant she could have his hand on her cheek and his soft voice in her ear. After she punched him in his stupid, pretty face, perhaps.

 

She checked online when flights were the next day, and then consoled herself with thoughts of dramatically recounting this to Hannibal, until she drifted into fitful sleep. Nightmares of being locked in her father's kill cabin propelled her back into reality far earlier than she intended, so she reluctantly got her big suitcase together, and set off for whatever awaited her back in Baltimore.

Chapter Text

In spite of Will's guilt, after his flight had landed, he didn't check and see if Abigail had arrived at Port Haven. She was clearly angry with him and needed space. And if there was one thing he wanted to do this time, it was give her what she needed. So that was why, when he heard a knock at his front door, he was considerably surprised. That couldn't be her... Abigail had never ventured onto his property without his consent. Unnerved, Will opened the front door before spotting a wild-eyed, peevish Alana Bloom on his porch.

 

"Uh...Alana," he choked. "What are you-?"

 

"What the hell were you thinking?" she seethed. "You seriously thought that you could bring Abigail home, a place that could've done considerable mental damage, and then just leave her there?"

 

Will blinked. "I... She asked me to."

 

Alana gritted her teeth. "What Abigail wants and what she needs are two completely different things, Will, and I can't believe I need to tell you that! How could you be so reckless?!"

 

Guiltily, Will lowered his eyes. "Did Abigail tell you all this?"

 

"That's irrelevant. Clearly, you're not denying your involvement, which is why I'm strongly encouraging you to stay away from Abigail Hobbs. She doesn't need this kind of mental anguish, Will. She lost her home – her family – so to swing by and pull her around emotionally isn't doing her any favors."

 

Will cringed, self-consciously curling in on himself. Alana didn't know the first thing about his true involvement with Abigail, and yet her words resonated in more ways than one. He had possibly led her on...and hurt her.

 

"I want to apologize."

 

"No. What you need to do is stay away from her, and let her heal on her own terms. If you don't, she won't be able to move past this. She's really upset, in case you weren't clear on that."

 

Will swallowed. "I never meant-"

 

"No, I'm sure you didn't, but it happened, so it's high time you took responsibility for your actions. I won't inform Jack, but I'd suggest you focus more on your mental health and leave the professionals to Abigail." Expression softening, she sighed. "I'm sorry for jumping all over you, but...I'm worried. For you and for my patient."

 

Will smiled sadly. "You don't have to be... I've got Dr. Lecter, and Abigail has you, so we're at the very least in good hands, aren't we?"

 

Alana mirrored his sad smile. "I hope so. Goodbye, Will."

 

*

 

In spite of Alana's explicit warnings, Will (naturally) went against her wishes and went to the hospital. He stood nervously outside Abigail's designated room, shifting from foot to foot as he clutched a bouquet of wildflowers in one hand. He hadn't known what she liked, but with the help of a kind old florist, he'd bought sunflowers, bluebells, and purple snapdragons. They seemed to reflect Abigail's warm, unique nature, so Will had swooped them up in a hurry.

 

Abigail heard the first knock and just knew it was him. Neither the staff nor Hannibal knocked before they just walked right in. She glanced at the time and snorted a dark laugh to herself. It was three days, almost to the minute, since he'd walked out on her. Seemed like longer.

 

Two days ago, she had had a long cab ride, waited a tedious amount of time at the airport, had a boring flight alone, and then finally huffed into Hannibal's kitchen. She had launched into a tirade of Will-bashing while he nodded, conveniently leaving out any allusion to the sex parts. She had known that, as a shrink, Hannibal would want to discuss that in excruciating detail if she had let him know, and she was not about to do that. He was little more than mildly concerned, with explanations and textbook answers for everything that had happened. It made her feel both better and worse that she and Will had gotten into the mess they had when he made it all sound so simple.

 

Hannibal had insisted that her staying away any longer from the hospital would lead to Alana having his head on a platter, and dutifully, he’d driven her back there. Evidently, he had still told Alana most of it, since she had been there first thing that morning 'to see if she wanted to talk about it'. Abigail had not.

 

"Abigail? Uh...it's me. It's Will Graham." There came a pause, then he rapped against the door more forcefully. "May I come in? Please...it's important that we talk."

 

Abigail wasn't physically ready to talk to Will either, though, so instead of replying she simply opened the door. She noticed he had brought flowers – they were beautiful – but she willed herself to bide her time. She was mad as hell, but she also missed him. She knew there were things that needed said first. Abigail looked up at him, indignant and expectant although it was probably obvious how wounded she was too.

 

Will was instantly met with Abigail's cold, unwavering stare. Self-conscious, he paused a moment before pushing past her, not wanting to remain in the hallway. "I brought you these," he babbled, "but I didn't know what you'd like... I just figured they might brighten your room a bit."

 

Hesitant, he searched around him for security cameras. It was technically illegal to survey a patient's room, but Will was aware of how backwards certain facilities could be. Once he was satisfied that no, they weren't being watched, he took hold of the full vase on Abigail's desk and removed the present flowers. Replacing them with his own bouquet, his movements grew more frustrated the longer Abigail remained silent. Was this it? Was this her form of punishment? Because although he deserved far worse in terms of backlash, it was still burning him up inside not knowing her true thoughts on the matter. Turning from the desk, Will nailed Abigail in place with his forlorn, pleading eyes.

 

"You told Alana," he whispered. "Or at least...she stopped by today. I think if she knew the entirety of our trip, she would've been a lot more upset with me, but she was certainly displeased. I deserved every bit of her lashing. Abigail, I'm sorry..." He came toward her, stopped, then bowed his head. "I'm sorry that we didn't do what I promised. You just wanted to lay your mother to rest, and...I failed you. In more ways than one. I don't expect you to forgive me, but I would ask that you at least try to understand that what you told me was far too heavy. I couldn't make a logical conclusion in that moment. I needed time and distance and clarity before coming to my senses."

 

Abigail watched Will intently as he dotted uncomfortably around her room, babbling. She didn't stop him from changing her flowers – the old ones were from Freddie Lounds – nor did she speak until he seemed done. "I didn't tell her." She said simply, not offering further explanation. It was probably obvious that it would have been Hannibal she told instead.

 

Will narrowed his eyes in response, his jaw tensing as he shoved his hands into his pockets. Another betrayal on Hannibal's part. At this rate, he was in no hurry to resume therapy, what with the secrets and whispers carrying on behind his back. "So good of you to share our problems with someone else," he groused. "Things are complicated enough without dragging other people into our affairs."

 

Abigail's own hackles were rising. "What was I supposed to do? Tell no one and just suffer? Tell Alana straight and you'd probably never be allowed back here again? I might be mad but I didn't want that.” Abigail bowed her head, dark hair hanging over her face. "I'm sorry, ok? I wasn't thinking and needed to vent..."

 

"Well clearly, Dr. Bloom found out anyway, seeing how we were betrayed by someone I thought we could trust," Will said. "I understand needing an outlet, Abigail, but speaking non-hypothetically has put me under surveillance. Alana will not let this lie, and any time I come to see you, she'll want a follow-up reasoning. Did you really think this wouldn't get out?"

 

Aggravated, he raked a hand through his hair. Abigail was just as testy, which naturally didn't help with his already rankled demeanor. "What do you want me to do, Abigail? I came here with the hopes of mending fences – everything's been so fucked since that night – but you're not making this any easier. I can't eat, I can't sleep, I can't think without you. Just why that is, I can't be certain, but I feel like I'm starting to lose my mind."

 

Abigail refused to look at him. "So you've ‘come to your senses’ that you're as fucked up as me? Great, thanks.”

 

Her voice was flat as she sat sullenly down on her bed. His continued assertions that they were bad for each other confused the hell out of her, when compared to his story of being a wreck without her. "I haven't exactly been feeling great either." She finished lamely. What else was she supposed to say to all that?

 

Were they fucked up? Certainly, but Will didn't appreciate the implication either way. "We're not crazy," he coolly said. "Being damaged doesn't make us fucked up, it makes us stronger for what we've endured. Think of all the other people in this world who've been defeated by far less… You’re not broken, Abigail, and I can't be the one to piece you together." His expression turned sorrowful. "You do get that, don't you? We can strive to help one another, but in the end, we have to be the ones to save ourselves. 'Cause clearly, after this weekend, it's been proven that we can't rely on anyone other than ourselves."

 

Frustrated and spilling over with far too many emotions, Will walked away before he could act on the more impulsive ones. He wanted to embrace her, to card his fingers through Abigail's hair and whisper that he would never, ever hurt her again. But could he promise something like that? Whatever he touched seemed to sour and wither on the vine.

 

Abigail heard Will's footsteps move away and glanced up at his back. She wanted deep down to just forgive him, but that would be careless...wouldn't it? Then she would be letting him away with it, like she had had no choice but to let her father away with it all, too…

 

Stepping in front of Abigail's large double windows, Will kept his back on her and exhaled. "The very fact I couldn't be there for you when you needed me most speaks volumes, and I…I no longer feel fit to insert myself into your life. You've already got far more to deal with than the average teenager, so I'd rather remove the one part of this equation I can actually fix: myself."

 

His words made Abigail panic. Yet again, this was not how she pictured his visit going. "So...you came back just to tell me you weren't coming back? I see." She nodded, pursing her lips in an attempt to keep from breaking down or blowing up. She had let him in and look what happened? She wasn't going to show him how vulnerable she was again. Not this time.

 

"What?" Will arched his brows, stricken by her assessment. "No..." Shaking his head, he sank down to his knees so they could be eye level, his hands seeking hers as he grew earnest and pleading. "I'm not abandoning you, I just...I don't think it would be wise to continue this path of intimacy. Alana's already been clued in to a shift in our dynamic, and I'm afraid that my selfishness is clouding my judgment. I've become too dependent on you, Abigail, and it's keeping me from seeing just how bad this is for your recovery. You deserve a fresh start. You need a path that isn't dictated by anyone's hopes and dreams other than your own."

 

Guiltily, Will watched the pain in Abigail's eyes and squeezed her hands. "I'm so sorry for everything I've put you through...I was cruel and foolish to prolong this as long as I have. I'm not sure what initially made me believe this could last, but...I think Alana's involvement was the wakeup call I needed. Perhaps you should talk to her, too. An abridged version, of course."

 

"What, so I can do what she thinks I should do instead of you? No thanks." Abigail felt the anger coming to the surface as he tried to coddle and sugarcoat his flaking out on her. She pulled her hands away from his and glared at him. Abigail crossed her legs close to her and wished he would just go away. How could she have let herself get so attached to him? To almost sleep with him? She was mad at herself too.

 

Will grimaced. "No, you should do what you think you should do... Alana is just an excellent listener. Clearly, I'm not – I'm still stewing in my own resentments, and that's not fair to you." Abigail sharply withdrew and Will wavered, sinking back onto his haunches. Her words stung, but he knew they were what he deserved – less than what he deserved, undoubtedly, and he felt compelled to plead for more.

 

Let her unburden. Be whatever she needs. With an even breath, Will said, "I'm trying to help you, Abigail. If I truly only wanted you in my life for sex, I would have gotten it by now. I've held you out at arm's length because I fear for your vulnerability. Like it or not, you are vulnerable, and are probably only reaching for me because I have a semblance of understanding toward your plight. It feels good/ to be seen, and even better to be loved by the person who sees you. But I can't be that, Abigail...not when what you need right now is a friend. You're too young to realize what you're asking."

 

"I'm not an idiot, Will. You can dress it up any way you like but you led me on and now you're backing out. Cool. Whatever. Typical guy..." She snorted and gestured at the box on the dresser, her mother's ashes still to be scattered. "Don't worry, my mom warned me about guys like you, so in way, she'll be at peace knowing I had a lucky escape."

 

By her own admission, she was inexperienced as well, and Will would be damned if he took any more from her than he already had. As painful as her accusation was, it wasn't incorrect – she was lucky to get away from him. With tears in his eyes, Will gently curled a hand around her knee, entreating her with his gaze. "Please forgive me. I know you hate me right now, and you have every right to be angry, but I'm not going to leave you behind. I'll still be here...I'll still visit, and I'll even take you on all those trips we talked about. The only difference is, we'll just be friends." He squeezed her knee. "Alright? Isn't that feasible?" His heart ached, and he could barely get the words out.

 

Abigail finally looked at him, compelling him with her big pale eyes. She wanted to pull him to her and never let go. Wanted to remind him of all the things he said that he was now going back on; to tell him he did listen, and help and make her feel stronger...

 

He had made up his mind though – she was just a needy little girl and he knew better. Abigail was stubborn but not stubborn enough to just send him away when he asked for forgiveness and face not seeing him at all. She nodded, defeated in her acceptance of his offer. "Ok." She said softly.

 

Somehow, Abigail's agreement brought pain instead of relief. Swallowing around the lump in his throat, Will reached for her hands again, curling them in to rest over his heart. "Speak what's on your mind," he pleaded. "I know you're hurting right now, and it'd be unfair of me to walk away without you saying your piece. You deserve to curse or yell or lash out, Abigail. I was reckless and left you in an uncomfortable position, so please...tell me how you really feel. When you say 'okay,' I know you don't actually mean it."

 

Will hated seeing Abigail in this light – in this pained, broken state that he had caused. But it was for the best, wasn't it? Wasn't he protecting her? No matter how much peace she brought him, he couldn't use her as a crutch.

 

Abigail was incensed. He had basically told her what was going to happen and now when she agreed, he was trying to force her to say she didn't? Again she wriggled her hands free of his. "You know what? You're right – I am hurt and I do hate you for this." She stood up and paced around the room as she yelled at him.

 

"I wanted to be your friend, but then things changed and it was nice – and you liked it too – but now you're here acting like you're sorry when really it's just to like, let me down gently because you're scared?! It's all games Will! Even if you're not only out for sex, you're still fucking with me!" She looked him in the face and began to back him towards the door. "Stay or leave, but don't treat me like a kid after you did just the opposite." She seethed.

 

Will rose when she did, reeling despite the fact he'd more or less fed her those words. Regardless, it didn't make it sting any less as he watched her begin to pace. "Abigail..." She cut him off, fuming and laying out his offenses one by one. She was right. Not that he'd ever doubted that, but she was right, and numbly, he allowed her to back him up toward the door. Undoubtedly, Abigail wanted him to fight back, but he couldn't... Not when he was guilty of all the aforementioned. Eyes stinging, Will reached for the knob. He wouldn't stay, because he was a coward, and rather than explain why he had to leave her behind, he ducked his head and headed out the door.

 

Abigail was furious with disbelief. Will, instead of fighting for her, ran as usual. More empty words, empty promises, and then actions that went against him. Part of her wanted to wrench the door open and scream every name she could call him, echoing down the hall; or maybe run after him and slap his dumb, pretty, spineless face. She didn't do that though, she just glared impotently at the closed door. Maybe he was right about being bad for her – this was bullshit.

 

When he hadn't reappeared after a week, Abigail was starting to feel ok about it. Almost. She had been difficult and morose for days, but eventually it was more effort to keep that up than to just go back to being Abigail. Mildly depressed and a flight risk. She went to Hannibal's as often as she could but he wanted to talk about her dad too much. She even started talking more to Alana, but she wanted to talk about Will too much. She only opened up about pointless stuff from her childhood, school etc. Letting them think they got insight, but only Will had really gotten to know her...

Chapter Text

Three weeks. Will hadn’t visited Abigail in three weeks, and he could feel each pang of guilt like a strong, physical ache. Staring down sullenly into his coffee, he listened to Alana stir cream and sugar into her own mug.

 

“Thank you for seeing me,” she said. “I’m sure you’ve been busy, what with everything that’s been going on lately, but I wanted to check in and see how you were doing.”

 

“I’m fine,” Will softly said.

 

“Are you?” Alana arched a skeptical brow, now tilting her head. “Have you seen Abigail?”

 

“No. Not even once.”

 

“Good. I know it may not seem like it, but this is good for her. For you, too.”

 

“It doesn’t feel good. I abandoned her...again.”

 

“At my advisement.” Taking a sip of coffee, Alana winced at the bitterness before setting it back down again. “Her progress with therapy has been positive. Ever since your tiff, she’s been more willing to open up. No matter how you might be feeling, I’d consider this a win.”

 

Will felt his heart dip. He was glad to hear that Abigail was doing so well, but the selfish, ego-driven part of himself needed to hear that she was as lost, adrift, and as miserable as he was.

 

“Have you been sleeping?” Alana asked.

 

“Hmm?”

 

“You look tired,” she continued. “I asked if you’ve been getting enough sleep.”

 

“Not terribly, no.” Ever since he’d cut ties with Abigail, Will had noticed his inability to sleep properly had returned. He didn’t understand how one single person could cure whatever ailed his soul, but he didn’t feel so lost or ugly when he was with her. For Abigail’s sake, he hoped she wasn’t suffering a similar fate.

 

“Perhaps you should get a prescription,” Alana suggested. “I can see if-”

 

“No, thank you.” Rising from his seat, Will shuffled into the kitchen and dumped his coffee into the sink. “If you don’t mind, I’d like to get started on a few lesson plans. I’d rather not put them off any longer.”

 

Nodding, Alana rose as well. “Of course,” she agreed. “You do whatever you need to do, Will.” With a fond smile, she moved over and laid a hand on his arm. “We’ll keep in touch, alright?”

 

Will nodded, though when he mirrored her smile, the warmth never quite reached his eyes.

 

*

 

Instead of assuaging him, Alana’s progress report had actually inspired Will to go against her wishes. He didn’t care about their agreement anymore – he wasn’t breaking the law, for God’s sake, and Abigail wasn’t a child. Alana had no legal sway over who she could and could not see.

 

It was this thought that propelled him, and Will felt antsy as the orderly knocked on Abigail’s hospital room. “Miss Hobbs?” the nurse called. “I’m sorry to bother you during recreational hours, but you have a visitor. He says it’s urgent.”

 

After three weeks with no sign of Will (and Hannibal's assertions he was getting far too involved with Jack's cases) Abigail was not expecting her visitor to be him. When she saw it was, she froze. "Will." She stated, reeling a little with seeing him, but nodded at the nurse to let him in.

 

Stepping back to allow Will entry, the nurse said, "You came just in time! The patients finished up their painting session for the day, so maybe Abigail will let you see her progress art."

 

Will grimaced in sympathy. That hardly sounded like fun, and after offering a weak smile, he shut the door on the bubbly woman and turned back toward Abigail. All at once, he was overcome by the familiar ache that struck him any time they locked eyes. They were connected – if she hurt, he hurt – and he could no longer tamp down their bond like a bad, unwanted memory.

 

Abigail didn't know what to say to the man who opened her heart and then discarded it. She had thought about him every night, even if they all thought she had gotten over it. Sometimes she cried and sometimes she...well, she feverishly recalled the two nights they had shared. Her mouth was set in a line of stoic reproach but her big, tearful eyes silently pleaded for him to just…hold her. Will had done much more than that...

 

With breath in his lungs like knife points, Will crossed the distance between them on wobbly, unsteady legs. Hands shaking, he took hold of her face and crashed his mouth harshly into hers. Pulling hard on her hair, he angled in and tugged, lifting her chin so that he could drink of her more fully.

 

His kiss was bruising and infused with every bit of remorse Abigail had wished for since that day in her old bedroom. His hand in her hair made her shiver with the intensity of everything she had missed. His passion bled into hers and her heart was racing by the time he pulled his mouth away.

 

Breaking the kiss with a shallow breath, Will clung to her and shook his head. "I'm so sorry," he choked. “God, I'm so sorry..." Slumping down to his knees, Will gripped at Abigail's waist and buried his face into her middle, his lips brushing against the fabric of her shirt as he inhaled sharply. "I never meant to hurt you," he promised. "I know I shouldn't let other people dictate the terms of my life, but I was afraid that if I went against Alana's wishes, she'd become vocal and put you in the press' spotlight. I couldn't have Freddie Lounds sniffing into your personal affairs...or at least, not any more than usual, and most certainly not in connection to myself. Anyone who comes into contact with me is an automatic target."

 

Finally, Will withdrew and looked up into her eyes, still holding tightly to her waist. "I know that none of that absolves me, and I encourage you to still be cautious after all the turmoil I put you through. Just please…try and understand why I stayed away."

 

Abigail petted absently at his curls as he knelt at her feet. She had been so mad at him, so hurt. She still was, even if their connection was undeniable and – clearly – unshakable. She didn’t feel like they could just continue down this path without talking a little, it was long overdue. “I don’t care about any of them, I only care about you.” She took a shaky breath. “But cautious is right, though...I want everything to be ok but now...I’m scared.” She gazed solemnly down at him with her hands on his shoulders.

 

The selfish, ego-driven part of Will delighted in Abigail's admission. In his tentative outreach, he'd striven to be what she needed, but then he'd tripped and botched all of his efforts. With a weak smile, Will lifted his head and touched the hand on his shoulder, carefully coaxing her into genuflecting before him. "I know," he whispered, "and it'd be unfair of me to expect otherwise."

 

Sliding his hands into her hair, Will brushed a thumb along her cheek and shook his head. "I'm tired of fighting against what I want – I'm tired of trying to decide what feels right versus what's morally right, because yes, maybe I am taking advantage of a young, confused girl, but maybe I'm not. Maybe you're not confused, and maybe you're far more self-aware than everyone gives you credit for. Myself included."

 

Leaning forward, he pressed his forehead to hers, drawing in a low, shaking breath. "I can't sleep... I can barely eat. The nightmares are coming back, and perhaps it's irrational and selfish, but the only time I can recall there being a lull in any of those things was when we were together." Will lowered his hands to her shoulders. "I don't intend to put pressure on you, nor do I want you feeling like you have to keep me in your life. I'm just saying that I very much want to be there for you, and regardless of outside disapproval, I'm going to be. For as long as you need me."

 

Abigail let him pull her down on the floor with him, sitting on her legs. His words were music to her rejected ears and, although she knew she would have to be careful, she couldn't help how relieved she felt. She gave him a half-smile despite herself. "I wasn't confused until you confused me." She scolded gently.

 

Will smiled guiltily, giving a slow nod. "I know," he whispered, "and I can't tell you how sorry I am for that. Instead of letting you make your own decisions, I decided that I knew what was best for you...and clearly, I didn't. I can't blame Alana for what I've done, because at the time, I'd agreed with her. I feared that my being in your life was toxic... But now, I'm afraid that the opposite is true. I never should’ve left just because I was overwhelmed, because I know that was when you needed me most."

 

"No, you shouldn't have left." She agreed. "But you're not toxic, you're the only person who doesn't treat me like a suspect or a patient. You're the only one apart from Hannibal who treats me like an adult." Abigail sighed. "Maybe I didn't know what I wanted...until you took it away, but you said yourself – if you'd just wanted to take advantage you could have. You did nothing of the sort." She reassured him.

 

Will winced, not entirely sure he agreed with her assessment. His reaction to Abigail's confession had been volatile at best, and he'd held her out at arm's length like a pariah. Cupping her cheeks, he pressed a fond kiss to her forehead. "I've missed you so much," he whispered. "I'm not certain where we should go from here, but all I do know is I want to be there for whatever you need, good or bad. " Will didn't wish to discuss Abigail's other remark, because he felt he had been hasty and selfish in that regard.

 

Instead, he glanced over at the urn Abigail had mentioned in passing. "I suppose it would be out of the question to return to Minnesota at this time, but...maybe we could find a new place for your mother? One you think she would like, and one the two of you can share from your new enlightened state? Or at least, I hope you're feeling renewed and free."

 

Abigail followed his eyes to the box containing her mother and nodded slowly. "We can still take her camping if you want? It might be good to finish what we started." Abigail didn't think about what this might sound like she was referring to until she had said it, but she held his gaze anyway, hoping he wouldn't notice...or wouldn’t mind.

 

Will smiled and nodded, gently running his fingers through her hair. "I do want to," he assured her. "We can take my tent or pop-up camper, whichever you'd prefer, and make a weekend of it. There'll be no ugliness, no ghosts, no bad memories – just you and me." Coaxing her in to curl against his chest, Will propped his chin in her hair and gently rubbed her back. "Let's just keep this between us, alright? This weekend is ours – I don't want Hannibal or Alana weighing in on our decisions."

 

Sure, people would say it was a bad idea, but Abigail had always found the whole 'you have to fix yourself before you can be with someone' idea offensive. Perhaps she had always known it would apply to her. Or maybe she was just mature enough to realise she really couldn't help what she wanted either. And that was Will, in whatever form that took. Abigail knew they had a long path to get back to where they were before, but she decided she would rather be heading this direction than the opposite one. Abigail wasn't to know that her hopeful desire for things to work out was natural, given her circumstances and the loss of her father. To her she just felt like a clingy little girl with no self-respect.

 

She went willingly into his embrace, pushing her hands into the fabric of his shirt by his sides. That warm, pleasant scent of his calmed her – and riled her up – with the same force as ever. She breathed it in. "Just us." She repeated, relieved and apprehensive all at once but finally having something to look forward to. She just hoped this time it would be alright.

 

Gently pressing a kiss to the crook of her neck, Will withdrew and took hold of her hands. "Let's get your stuff together," he encouraged. "It's been what, a month or two now? Alana's spoken of your progress, so I don't see why you should be holed up here any longer. I wouldn't say I'm breaking you out, per se, but I'm giving you the opportunity to stay with me, should you desire it."

 

Helping Abigail off the floor, Will moved over to her dresser and began unpacking her belongings. "Before I came in, I'd already filled out the paperwork to take you away for the weekend, so we can worry about finalizing everything later. At the very least, that'll give you time to decide what you want to do, and...well...Alana's not legally responsible for you, but I'm sure she'll want to weigh in at some point. You should prepare yourself for an impromptu visit."

 

Abigail stood and eyed Will. "Oh you did huh? Pretty sure I was going to come with you, I see..." She pouted reproachfully in his direction, having a moment of panic that this was a bad idea – that things would go wrong yet again. She took a step closer.

 

Will felt the tips of his ears tinge pink. "Well...you've always said anything's better than the hospital, so it's not like I thought I was the better option, I just...figured you'd want to." Sheepish, he avoided her gaze as he continued busying his hands with her clothes.

 

Abigail had only been partly serious when she was busting his balls, and she felt bad at how terrible he obviously felt. "You are a better option Will..." She said honestly, leaving out the 'better than everyone' that she wanted to add. Abigail tried not to let the thought make her emotional, and took a deep breath. "I just...don't want to get hurt again. I don't want to have to walk away from you – not least because there's nobody else I enjoy spending time with now…but if I have to, I will. This is your last chance." She had to be seen to do the adult thing and hold him accountable, although she had a feeling that she could never walk away, so she needed Will to fix it. He just had to.

 

When Abigail gave her ultimatum, his shame bled deeper, drowning him with sour regret. "I know," he whispered. "And that's completely fair…far more than I deserve." Setting down her belongings, Will turned away from the dresser and looked her in the eye, aware that she deserved the direct contact. He shook his head. "Naturally, I can't promise that you won't get hurt along the way, but I'm going to damn well try and shield you from that. The first time was just...it was sloppy, because I was struggling with my own damages. I've never felt the need to fit someone into my life before, so it was difficult weighing out the proper balance. And then the more I tried to figure everything out, the messier things became..." He waved a hand, sighing. "Nothing I say now can fix what I've already done, but at the time, I thought I was protecting you, and I hope you can forgive me for my misguided opinions. I should've just listened to you."

 

"Yep, you should listen to me." She gave him a look and started packing her stuff. She would have to keep him on his toes for a bit. Let him earn his way back into her affections.

 

Despite the sharp pang that continued to throb inside his chest, Will had to chuckle at Abigail's firm, unwavering expression. "You've practiced that one, haven't you?" he teased. "I've heard about the infamous 'look' women give men, but I've never quite been privy to it until now. I feel as though I've earned a merit badge." Handing Abigail her full duffel bag, Will smiled warmly, the corners of his eyes crinkling as his fingers gently, almost cautiously brushed her own. He still felt as if he was treading on thin ice, and he knew that what they had couldn't be restored over night, but he damn well wanted to try.

 

Abigail tried hard to hide the smirk that threatened, Will could be far too cute when he wanted to. She wondered if he even knew what he was doing to her. "We must just be born with it." She shrugged, taking the bag from him and ignoring his fingers on hers. Slowly, Abigail, don't rush in this time… She had to make him wait, even if it sucked.

 

"Are you ready to go?" he asked.

 

She nodded towards the much larger bag she had brought back from Minnesota. "You can bring that one." Abigail smiled sweetly.

 

Will had to chuckle. "Saddling me with the bigger one, are you? As long as there aren't any rocks lacing the interior, I think I'll be able to manage." Lifting the bag and crossing the strap over his chest, Will reached for Abigail's elbow, encouraging her to follow as he headed out into the hall. "The dogs will be happy to see you," he said. "I know you didn't stay with me for long, but they seem like they know you haven't been around." He hesitated. "Or perhaps they've just noticed the change in me.”

 

Abigail gave Will's quip a withering look, but she found herself lost for words. Was he really so down without seeing her? She looked at the vinyl flooring pass her feet as they left – thinking idly about how she certainly wouldn't miss this place, but she had missed him. She opted to just say something safe. "Aww, well they're cute, it'll be nice to see them too." Abigail realised she was actually nervous about going back to Will's – the site of their first and very sweet encounter – after all that had happened since.

 

Smiling softly, Will curled an arm around her shoulders and pressed a kiss to her crown, pulling her closer as they walked. "Glad to hear it," he murmured. At this point, it was difficult to hide his elation. He would finally be able to sleep again, to spend time with Abigail, and learn from her in ways he'd been too afraid prior. Briefly, he found himself wondering if she would still wish to share a room. They had never actually done so beyond their one night together, but Will wanted her to feel safe and cared for. And selfishly, he knew he wanted her there, too.

 

*

 

Leading Abigail up to his front porch, Will warned, "Prepare yourself for a potential ambush. It's been a while since my return, and most definitely yours, so they'll be excitable." Opening the door with one hand, Will crossed the threshold. "How about a little tour?" he offered. "I've only truly showed you your bedroom and the kitchen, and if you're going to live here for a while, it makes sense that you get the rundown of the entire house, right?"

 

Taking Abigail's bag from her hand, he set it onto the floor before edging her back against the door, nailing her in place with his palms against her shoulders. Will chuckled, leaning in to press a searing kiss beneath her ear. "Don't worry," he whispered. "We have time." Desirous that she remain submissive and quiet, he nudged a knee in between her thighs. Dragging his leg upward, Will raked his knee back and forth against her heat, now taking Abigail by the waist and encouraging her to grind down against his moving thigh. He pushed her against him, dragging her hips back and forth as he burned a trail of kisses along her neck.

 

Abigail cursed her traitorous body as she melted in Will's arms despite her mind working overtime. It was too soon, maybe they shouldn't do this at all, what an asshole...oh god he's so hot... She had immediately pressed her palms on his chest in protest, but they now rested there impotently as he teased her out of her good sense.

 

"Where should we start first?" he purred. Now dipping a hand inside her jeans, Will pressed his fingers against the moist spot on her panties and nipped at her throat. "I meant the tour, of course..." He heard a whine from behind them, and turned to see his loyal group of canines wagging their tails. He chuckled and pulled away. "The dogs are actually quite well-behaved, so you won’t have to worry about any intrusions. I've just missed you, is all... Though perhaps that wasn't the most appropriate welcome. I apologize."

 

Only after he had pulled back to explain himself did Abigail find her voice, dazed by his hand being so suddenly on her and just quickly taken away. "I can see that...and...I missed you too, Will." She dropped her eyes, "But you can't just do stuff like that and then 'apologise'..." She trailed off. Her heart wasn't in it – that was exactly what she wanted from Will, how she imagined him treating her in her dreams – but she gave herself a mental shake.

 

Eyes flashing with amusement and desire, Will took hold of Abigail's hand and bags and encouraged her to follow him through the hallway. The dogs dutifully trailed after. "We'll unpack everything first," he suggested, "and then we can walk around wherever you see fit."

 

He deserved sanctions for it all and Abigail fully believed she was capable of staying strong. "You can't kiss me again until I say so." She stated before helplessly following, annoyed by how childish that sounded, cheeks flushed and eyes blazing furiously at him in more ways than one.

 

Will looked over his shoulder, watching Abigail's pink cheeks and fiery eyes with a faint smirk. She was right though. He didn't deserve to have any claim to her after what he'd done, and yet he couldn't help but turn back around and re-approach. "That's alright," he whispered, reaching out to lightly touch her chin. "I'm content to just look...and touch." Brushing his thumb across her lips, he smiled and pushed back a lock of her hair. "Ready for that tour? There's some neat stuff in the attic. Unless my punishment extends to bonding, too?"

 

Abigail watched him as he caressed her face once again. Look and touch...that look he was giving her right then wasn't helping matters. This gentle dominance was more than she ever wanted, but things were such a mess now. She couldn't decide if she was intimidated, or the most aroused she had ever felt. This was going to be torture, but she couldn't let him think she was weak, or a pushover. She had to just put it out of her mind, and nodded, deliberately no longer looking at the soft, playful eyes that she knew were going to be her undoing.

Chapter Text

"Watch your step," Will warned. Checking over his shoulder, he offered Abigail a smile as he headed up the attic ladder. Once he was at the top, he reached down and took hold of her hands, carefully helping her up until she was standing at his side. "It's a bit dusty," he admitted. "I don't come up here terribly often." Flicking on a light, Will placed a hand on the small of her back and added, "I figured it'd be easier to glean your attention without the dogs clamoring at our feet. Privacy can certainly be hard to find."

 

Sparing Abigail a meaningful glance, Will pressed a kiss to her temple and brushed his lips against her forehead. "What are you interested in exploring first?" Idly, his hands skimmed along her waist, further hinting at the innuendo. "I've got all sorts of things up here... Plenty of books, old records, fishing poles – hell, even some school and training paraphernalia. Though admittedly, I'm not overly keen about that last part. I only offered since seeing those things would be sufficient vengeance. Perhaps we'd break even?"

 

Abigail didn't know whether she wanted to slap Will, or pull him to the floor and get it out of her system. She placed her hands on his arms and walked him back a few steps, before leaving him there and retreating to go look around. "Bond with me from over there, Will." She flashed him a warning look. "And I doubt that'd make us quite even, but by all means show me." She challenged, levelling her gaze at him through the hazy sunlight from the tiny window.

 

Acquiescing, Will watched Abigail retreat with a wry, lopsided smile. Though when they locked eyes, he felt emboldened just like before. "It's admittedly been a while since I looked for my old police gear, so I'm not entirely sure which box everything's in. But if I find my uniform before you do, I'm cuffing you to a post." Chuckling at his own quip, he headed toward the furthermost wall and began rummaging through the items.

 

Abigail glared at Will's back, face burning at the idea he was actually getting his uniform out. An odd shiver had run through her when he suggested cuffing her, even if he was joking. "I think it's you that needs restrained." She mumbled darkly as she wandered over to see what he had found.

 

When Will looked back at Abigail, he held up a hand in surrender. "Don't worry," he assured her, "I'm not capable of 'bonding' all the way over here." Despite his usual reservations, there was something amusing and even fun in testing Abigail's boundaries. He couldn't quite recall the last time he'd enjoyed himself, least especially to this degree. "Here... I think I found it."

 

Pleased (but also not so pleased, given how he'd opened himself up to potential humiliation), Will pulled down a large box before setting it onto the floor. "If I'm right, pretty much my entire college existence is in here." Ripping off the packaging tape, Will flipped back the flaps and pulled out his old uniform. The badge still shone, though dully, within the slanting sunlight. He hadn't polished it in approximately ten years.

 

"While wearing this uniform, I scolded quite a few reprobates for stealing nudie magazines," he said, chuckling at the memory. "Nobody ever wants to be a beat cop. The work's both tough and menial."

 

Abigail imagined him, young and cocky with authority, wrangling the wayward teens of New Orleans before pushing the image away. She swallowed. "You got those in there too?" She teased, hoping he really didn't. She recalled the first time he mentioned his retro porn – in bed – and was nervous again. She couldn't help wondering how she compared to any model he'd lusted after back then.

 

Will laughed, brushing dust from off the front of his uniform. "No, not at all – those went to Officer Danvers. He was rather fond of confiscating magazines. There was an entire 'evidence bin' he kept in his locker." Lifting his cop hat from the box, Will smiled and placed it atop Abigail's head. "You look like a natural. Though admittedly, you should probably learn the official frisking routine."

 

Abigail looked at him from under the brim of his hat. "You are THE WORST, Will." She said of his continual innuendo, before dangling the handcuffs at him as a vague threat.

 

Will laughed, eyes twinkling with amusement. "I'd like to see you try, Miss Hobbs. You don't have the upper body strength to wrestle me to the floor. See? You have to do it like this..." Taking hold of Abigail's wrist, he wrenched her around so that she was melded snugly against his front, then forced her down onto the wooden flooring.

 

Edging his knee (gently) into her spine, he kept her arms pulled behind her back and pantomimed the motion of cuffing her. "Fortunately, I didn't have to do this too often," Will said. "Most of my cases were underage delinquents who got off with a warning. Even so, do you really think you'd be able to muscle me to the floor?"

 

Suddenly sheepish, Will released her wrists and rose. "Sorry," he apologized. "I didn't hurt you, did I?" Carefully helping her up off the floor, he dusted off Abigail's backside (while also trying to ignore her gentle curves). He slid the box toward her and said, "You can snoop around if you'd like. There isn't much in there, other than awards and handcuffs and some old photos." He kept his gun downstairs, just in case any intruders decided to pop in unannounced, so that was nowhere to be found. Regardless, he doubted Abigail wished to see the type of weapon that had killed her father.

 

Abigail’s mind had gone blank, adrenaline from a lot of sources coursing through her, until she was back on her feet. Why in the heck was that so hot?! She shook her head, no, and tried to refocus on something less intense like looking at photos. She was curious to see how the reality measured up to the image in her mind. Digging them out she found what she wanted – young, clean-shaven Will, smiling that half-smile in his uniform.

 

"That was taken when I graduated from the Academy," Will said. "I, uh...my dad wasn't there that day, but I like to think he was proud. He died the year before." Rubbing the back of his neck, Will ducked his damp eyes before looking up again with a smile. "I look kind of silly there, I guess...overly confident and with zero clue as to what was coming my way."

 

Abigail had to school her features carefully as she studied the softer, prettier version of Will’s handsome face. Oh, lord she was in trouble... She flicked her eyes up to look at him, just as gorgeous for all his troubles and having aged a few years. “I’m sure I could say that about pictures of me from junior year...” She said, thinking vaguely of life before it all turned sour. “But I'm sure your dad was proud...and you definitely don’t look silly.” Abigail said lowly. She didn't elaborate but he probably got the gist, and she just knew her cheeks were hot.

 

"To be fair, I think everyone has an awkward phase – wild hair, braces, acne...all of which I was fortunate enough not to have." With a smirk, Will took the picture from Abigail's hands and set it back into the box. "I did, however, have crippling anxiety and a cowlick, if that counts for something."

 

Abigail sat quietly, absorbing what Will was offering up about himself. She removed his hat and placed it back into the box, not looking up as she said. "Well I meant the whole 'not knowing what your life was going to end up like' thing...but I did have braces when I was younger."

 

"I'd call braces 'geek chic,'" Will assured her, offering a lopsided smile. "And I suppose that no, I couldn't have imagined what was in store for me. I've never felt connected to anyone in my entire life, Abigail. Not before you." He had dated, absolutely, but the experiences had been few and far in between. No woman had had the patience for his idiosyncrasies, nor constant need to be alone.

 

Stepping around Abigail, Will ducked further into the mess, idly exploring amidst the cobwebs and dusty boxes. Before long, he found something that caught his interest. Taking hold of an old gramophone on an end table, he gently cleaned it with his sleeve and spared Abigail a disbelieving smile. "I'd forgotten about this old thing," he said. "It was apparently my grandpa's, and if I recall correctly, it still works."

 

Switching the needle into place, Will made a face as the tinny, less than high quality sound filled the attic. "Well...it works," he acknowledged, "but I'd hardly call it pleasant to the ears. I can't believe this is what people had to listen to back in the day." Now holding out his hand to Abigail, he offered, "Might as well make the most of it, right?"

 

Abigail didn’t look up from the pictures. When the crackling music started and Will held out his hand, Abigail balked. "I-I don't really dance...not like that anyway." She was partially afraid of the sudden intimacy it would create, as much as the idea of embarrassing herself.

 

Lifting a brow, Will reached down and took hold of Abigail's hand, trying to assuage her with his touch. "You went to your prom," he reminded her. "Did you truly not learn, just in case you were asked to dance?"

 

It wasn't unlikely to think her father had lectured Abigail on what she was and was not allowed to do, but nevertheless, Will coaxed Abigail forward. "Just put your hand on my shoulder...like this," he encouraged, "and hold on to my hand with your other one. There. That's it." With a bright smile, he assured her, "You're a natural. It's not like it's rocket science, but there have been some victimized toes here and there." With a chuckle, he pulled her in closer, now pressing his cheek into hers. There was a tight, rigid quality to Abigail's acquiescence, but he didn't want to draw attention to the fact. That might cause a “fight or flight” reaction.

 

Abigail eyed him shyly. "No, I mean....I guess I can, I just...usually don't." She explained softly as he arranged her in his arms. The proximity of his body, the heat of him, the sound of his voice was melting her stubbornness. All she could think about was the last time they were this close, and the press of her body against him. She daren't barely breathe, lest she burst into tears or worse – try to kiss him after making such a fuss about not doing so yet.

 

"Well, there's no one here to witness our mediocre dancing skills, so between you, me and the walls, I think we'll be alright." Chuckling, Will brushed his lips against Abigail's ear, smiling as he slid a hand beneath her sweater. Her skin felt soft and warm against his cool fingertips, and his pulse began to quicken. "I've thought about you these past few weeks," he admitted. "A lot..." Will's voice had taken on a low, gravelly tone and he swallowed. "Though I suppose after everything that's happened, it would be difficult to think of much else."

 

It was a weak excuse at best. In all honesty, Will wasn't certain why he'd felt the need to bring it up to begin with, but when it came to Abigail Hobbs, there was a nagging, almost self-destructive need inside of him to be bold-faced and truthful. Or at least, he tended to be partially truthful. After all, the thoughts that had plagued Will's mind were anything but pure and wholesome. They had kept him up at night and barreled him further into his descent.

 

Abigail felt the shiver run through her when Will brushed his fingertips over the small of her back, lighting a fire in her belly. She panicked. This was too fast.

 

Trailing his fingers from her spine to the gentle dip above her bottom, Will moved to kiss her neck, but Abigail sharply withdrew. She pulled away from him and looked down at her feet. "Will...I..." She was at a loss for words, and she didn't want to be up here anymore.

 

She appeared like a wounded bird in that moment, posture hunched and eyes averted. Will swallowed. "Abigail, I didn't mean...I-I'm so sorry..." But she'd already broken away from him.

 

She felt trapped. "I'm going downstairs." She mumbled and climbed down the ladder out of sight without ever meeting his eye, making her way to 'her' old room and sitting heavily on the bed. She petted absently at one of the dogs who had curiously come to find her. It felt like her whole body just wanted to make up the physical way. Her mind wouldn't let her and she had no idea what to do. She considered the bed she sat on. Was Will going to expect her to sleep in his room tonight?

 

Will cringed as he heard the door slam downstairs. He released an even breath. Counting to ten, he finally followed down after, if only to give her a bit of a head start. Unsurprisingly, he discovered she'd gone to her old room.

 

"Abigail?" Will laid a hand on her door and knocked. "Are you hungry? It's getting late, and you never mentioned if the hospital fed you..."

 

Even if she hadn't eaten, he was unsure if she would be willing to come out and spend time with him. Not after her outburst.

 

Abigail sighed. She had to stop throwing bitch fits like a...like a teenager. Sure, she was one but she didn't exactly want to remind him of that, she was just so confused. They were never going to mend things with her acting like his difficult step-kid or something, however. She shuffled to the door and opened it, looking churlish. "What are we having?" She asked tentatively, at a total loss for how to navigate this but unable to deny she was pretty hungry.

 

When Abigail opened the door, the movement was so abrupt that Will nearly toppled into her. "Oh, uh..." He straightened himself with a self-conscious chuckle. "Nothing fancy... Just some stew. I've got fish in the freezer as well, but you'll soon learn to grow sick of that." Making sure he kept his hands to himself, Will tucked them into his pockets and indicated that Abigail follow him to the kitchen.

 

"I'm sorry for what I did up there," he said. "It was wrong and inappropriate, and I should have respected your wishes. From here on out, I won't touch or engage you at all...only if you ask me to." He lifted a hand from his pocket and held it up by his face, almost as if he were swearing an oath. "I promise."

 

Abigail followed Will downstairs and leaned on the counter. She regarded him, the threat of a smile playing around her lips at his contrition. "Good." She said firmly. Abigail was proud, she was doing the right thing and being mature. Even if it actually sucked. His 'inappropriate,' insistent wandering hands had practically made her wet…and she couldn't help but notice how as soon as she knew he wouldn't touch her, she kinda wanted him to. Ugh, what was wrong with her? She couldn't voice any of this and wracked her brain helplessly for a safe topic.

 

"So...um. Hannibal says you've been doing too much of Jack's stuff." Oh great, talk about work and death and Hannibal. She scolded herself, clearly too flustered watching him prepare food with the hands he was now going to keep to himself… She sighed.

 

Will cocked a brow. "Well, 'Jack's stuff' is certainly one way to put it," he muttered. "Though as my doctor, I'm unsure of why Hannibal's discussing my well-being? Our sessions are supposed to be confidential." Irritated, Will turned and opened the refrigerator. That was just great. He was already finding it difficult to properly bond with Abigail, and now she probably thought he was over-worked and borderline insane.

 

Abigail was more sensitive to and thus easily irritated by Will's snark today, given the heightened emotions of the situation they found themselves in. "Will, stop, he's not breaking confidentiality just to tell me he's worried about you. And if he is worried enough to say it, then it must be bad." She looked challengingly at him. She didn't want Will to disregard his own stability, especially not when she was coming to rely on him. She needed him...not that she would say that yet.

 

Will turned on the stove with a shrug. "I'm fine," he said, dumping the leftover stew into a pot. "It's bad enough that the people I work with think I'm crazy. I don't need you and Hannibal harping on it, too." Embittered, he stirred the cold stew while glowering at the wall. "It's true that some days I get overworked, but who doesn't? And last time I checked, getting caught up in one's work didn't qualify an inquisition." Glancing over his shoulder, his expression softened. "I appreciate the concern, but truly, Abigail...I'm fine. And the minute I start to suspect that I'm not fine, I promise I'll seek medical help."

 

Abigail looked sheepish. "Will...I'm sorry, ok? I don't think you're crazy, and I don't think he does either, but I don't want you to suffer and just accept it...because...I care too." She said quietly. She fiddled with a spice jar on the counter, feeling stupid.

 

The corner of Will's mouth twitched. He couldn't recall the last time someone had told him they'd cared – truly cared – nor entreated with him to get help outside of some self-serving reason. The realization hurt, though he didn't put a voice to it. "I'm not suffering," he softly assured her. "I have you here with me." Ladling the steaming stew into two bowls, he turned away from the stove and set them onto the table.

 

"You see my ugly parts, and I see yours. Maybe I'm delusional, but I can't help but hope that two wrongs will make a right in this case. Or at least, it feels right..." He trailed off, appearing uncertain as he took a seat. "I suppose I'm being unfair," he finally said. "I want to protect you – I'm sure you know that – so it must be only natural for you to want to reciprocate. I shouldn't rob you of that just because I'm stubborn."

 

Abigail's hands shook softly as Will spoke, turning her eyes down to hide her embarrassment. She made him happy...well, that was new...and it did feel right. She had to admit Will was really trying for her and, although it was hard to get used to someone making her the priority (for a non-sinister reason), it gave her pause. She sat and nodded her shy agreement before eating with him. She was wary, still, but the warm tendrils of hope that his assurance brought were beginning to thaw her resolve.