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Duplicity

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Duplicity. (n.) deceitfulness.

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“How far do I think I can cover you?”

Will is quiet, his eyes set on the set of pictures below him.

“Will.”

“I’m not sure,” Will admits, quiet.

From his desk, Jack sighs haggardly, and drags a hand over his face. He’s got more wrinkles and white hairs than Will remembers. But, he’s sure he’s the reason for their appearance.

“Will. The board is asking me if you are okay to go back out into the field,” the words spur Will to glance at Jack, only to avert them as Jack once again breathes out in frustration, “I need to be confident that I can put you back out there without any more incidents. I can’t, and won’t, give them an ‘I don’t know’ as an answer.”

Will’s hand twitches, his fingertip jerking slightly on the singular photograph he’s fixating on.

The one of Garrett Jacob Hobbs, his torso littered with bullet holes. Courtesy of Will Graham.

“So, actually try to answer my question this time,” Jack’s tone is not one leaving room for argument, and Will swallows as his superior repeats himself, “How far do you think I can cover you?”

Hobbs’ eyes are dull and lifeless and Will looks at them, getting unnerved at how it seems the man is staring back through the ink in the paper. How his consciousness still seems to live on in Will’s mind, even though his body has gone cold and stiff on a coroner’s table.

At his silence, Jack grits his teeth.

“Then I suppose you have to go under evaluation.”

Will’s head jerks up at the words, and his eyes are widening as Jack begins to fill out his paperwork on his desk.

“Jack, it doesn’t—”

“If you can’t tell me how things are with you, then I guess a psychiatrist can,” Jack is irritated now, and Will begins to feel a small amount of guilt about his refusal to cooperate, “But this is just how it’s going to be.”

“You know I hate being psychoanalyzed…”

“Then you should’ve thought about that before you put twelve bullets into Garrett Jacob Hobbs,” Jack snaps, and Will deflates at the words as Jack settles himself, going back to scrawling away with his pen, “There’s someone I have in mind for you to see. I’ve gotten an inkling that he may be the best man for the job with this situation.”

Will pauses for a moment, only to speak after a minute, voice quiet, “How long will I see him for?”

“Until he can deem whether or not you are stable enough for fieldwork. Or, as some of the board were also considering, even being consulted by the bureau,” Will winces at that, “They want to make sure that the person who is pointing them in the killer’s direction is trustworthy and dependable. They can’t afford to have someone who can’t hold onto the reigns.”

“You mean they can’t afford someone who is mentally unsound, not someone who can’t handle the saddle,” Will hisses softly under his breath.

He is quick to take the small business card that Jack offers to him.

“None of this is meant to offend or invalidate you, Will. Everyone is just concerned because we need to be,” Jack says with some amount of softness in his voice, prompting Will to lose some of his bristling, “His number and other forms of contact information are on the card. He’s expecting you to reach him in the next few days.”

“Thanks, I guess…” Will murmurs, and he pockets the card gruffly.

He and Jack share a small nod before Will takes his leave, the almost-insignificant piece of paper in his pocket feeling like a weight the whole way home.

-xXx-

In his hand, Will twiddles the business card as he waits for his call to be answered, a frown pulling his lips as he can hear someone pick up.

“Hello, is this Dr. Lecter?”

“Yes, this is he,” the voice is deep, accented, “Would it be too forward of me to ask if this is Will Graham on the line?”

“It may have been, if it weren’t me calling,” Will then rolls his eyes, “But I guess that it doesn’t matter because you know why I’ve rung you up.”

Dr. Lecter hums over the line, ”That I do. Jack informed me of why he sought my involvement some days ago. I’ve been expecting your call ever since.”

“Good. Then I don’t really need to explain too much,” Will uses his free hand to grab his bottle of scotch, and he begins to fill up his shot glass, “I guess that this call is mainly to set up appointments, or something similar?”

Will can hear the scuffle of some papers from Dr. Lecter’s end of things, “That would be appropriate. Just to inform you beforehand, sessions with me usually average around an hour in half in total. Based on Jack’s request, he would like you to see me at least once or twice a week until the bureau is satisfied with your evaluation.”

Evaluation… It’s a word that Will is not fond of. Out of distaste, he quickly takes his shot of scotch and downs it, enjoying the relief the burning of it offers before responding.

“Seems like a plan,” he gravels.

“Are there any questions you have before I schedule you?”

With a small sigh, Will closes his eyes, and lets his head fall back against the back of his recliner, “None that I can think of…”

The light scratching of a pen is audible over the line, and Will cracks his eyes open to stare at the ceiling.

“You’ll be seeing me this Tuesday, and Saturday, if that’s alright with you.”

Will nods, “That’ll work for me.”

Dr. Lecter hums in satisfaction then, “Then I suppose everything is in order. I shall talk to you again once we have our first session. Unless you’ve found yourself needing immediate consultation, of course.”

At that, Will hums, “I don’t think I will,” and he hangs up the phone to be done with it.

-xXx-

“Dr. Lecter said that you contacted him,” Jack says nonchalantly as they prep the debriefing room— he’s putting folders along the seats that agents will soon fill, while Will tacks up needed photos and maps to their bulletin.

As Will forces a thumbtack into the corkboard, he makes a noise of frustration.

“He also said that you hung up on him.”

“I don’t have to play nice, Jack…” Will gripes under his breath, “I’m there to be evaluated. Not be his friend.”

“While that is true, the very least you can do is be mannered,” Jack puts the last manila folder down on the table, and sighs, “Dr. Lecter is only trying to help you. He’s also the only man who can help you keep your career as an FBI consultant at this point. It’s best that you can show him some politeness in turn.”

Will purses his lips together, and as he forces another thumbtack into the board, he lowly hisses, “If he can’t handle me being prickly, then he can’t handle being my shrink.”

“You’re taking this the wrong way,” Jack warns, and it elicits a side look from Will, “It’s not that Dr. Lecter can’t handle you. It’s that you are refusing to let him.”

“I already have one person wanting to get in my head,” Will starts as he angrily strides away from the board, “I don’t need you trying to pry alongside him.”

“Will—”

The profiler storms out of the office, leaving his superior calling after him.

-xXx-

A few days pass, and thankfully, Jack seems to have let Will’s apparent stance on his arrangement with Dr. Lecter settle for now. Will knows it’s mainly because Jack doesn’t want to fight — doesn’t want to push Will away anymore than Will is already trying to do himself — because if there is one thing that Will Graham knows about Jack Crawford, it’s that he always puts what they are there to do before anything else.

Jack only cares about Will’s stability and mental condition because it’s what is barring him from field work, is what has him under scrutiny and under consideration for termination.

He’s like the bloodhound. Meant to sniff out the twisted minds of the those who commit the crimes they’re trying to solve.

And if Will isn’t running at top notch, Jack believes that more and more killers will just slip through the cracks.

So Will doesn’t say much, and he appreciates the silence to a degree, but he knows why it’s here.

Why Jack doesn’t want to have Will fight off his only chance at staying on with the bureau before he’s labeled too risky to rely on.

But really, they’re only buying him time.

-xXx-

Dr. Lecter’s at home office is a bit over the top, to say at the very least.

As soon as Will pulls up in Dr. Lecter’s driveway, his classic, Victorian-esque house looming over him in almost a demeaning way, he knows that, before he even reaches the foyer, he’s dealing with a man who takes his pride in his image.

Meticulous. Calculated. Egotis—

“Ah, Mr. Graham!”

Will lightly startles as the door to Dr. Lecter’s home opens, and he is greeted by the man himself.

And as for the way he looks, he must have immense pride. Going by the expensive, tailored suit he wears, and the way that not even a single hair on his body isn’t out of place.

And going by the way Dr. Lecter is unabashedly looking over the profiler, Will is sure that he is being judged for the way he lacks in comparison.

“Hello, Dr. Lecter.”

The older man steps aside from his doorway, “I don’t wish to be rude and have you stand out here on the porch as we discuss things,” Dr. Lecter is smiling and gesturing with a hand to the inside of the room, “Please, come in.”

Will steps inside without reply, and starts to look around at the vast space of the home.

“You have refined taste,” Will murmurs, and he turns to Dr. Lecter as the man closes the door, “Much fancier than most therapists.”

Dr. Lecter faces Will then, and smiles, “You will find that I’m not like most therapists.”

Instead of being reassuring, or even humorous, there is a slight… twinge, to the words. A double entendre that Will notes, and makes his palms clammy as he closes his hands out of reflex.

The look that Dr. Lecter sends Will invokes the profiler to swallow nervously, looking away.

“Well,” Will starts, slightly unsettled, “I don’t find you that interesting.”

And, in what seems like a light purr, Dr. Lecter rebuttals, “You will.”

Will’s lips press together, and he pivots, walking away from the doctor as he feels like he’s gotten signed up for more than just intrusive appointments.

-xXx-

The feeling hasn’t shaken.

During the entire start of their session, Will feels unease. Anxiety. Like something is going to happen.

His stomach is tied in knots, spurring Will to move about his chair out of nerves.

Dr. Lecter doesn’t seem to care. If anything, it doesn’t seem like he’s noticed Will’s apparent discomfort. Or, maybe he has and has written it off as Will’s distaste for their arrangements.

But even with other therapists, Will has never felt… felt like this.

“Mr. Graham?”

“You asked about why I’m here,” Will states easily, not even bothering to look Dr. Lecter’s way as he grips the arms of his chair, eyes browsing about the two stories of books and their shelving, “The answer is simple. I killed a man.”

Dr. Lecter is quiet for a moment, and Will glances at him from the side, noting the perplexed look on the doctor’s face.

“Such a thing should be expected from someone working in the field for the bureau—”

“I shot him twelve times,” again, Dr. Lecter pauses, provoking Will to add, “I wasn’t even able to fire a gun, during my training.”

Dr. Lecter hums, his eyes narrowing in thought as he leans back into his chair some.

“This has prompted concern.”

“Which has prompted my visitation to your lovely office,” Will sasses, noting the way that Dr. Lecter’s undereye twitches subtly, “I don’t want to be too much of a poor guest, but I don’t want to waste time on the obvious.”

At that, Dr. Lecter tilts his head, his gaze evaluating, “So you would rather focus on the suggestive.”

“I’d rather not be here at all, in truth,” Will admits, and he sighs, rubbing his hands along the gently worn leather of his seat arms then, “I don’t like it when people pick at my head and what’s going on inside of it.”

“I’d imagine that, with your level of empathy and your line of work, that it’s hard to find someone willing to relate, rather than speculate and examine.”

“Distrust comes naturally,” Will levels his gaze with Dr. Lecter’s then, “It’s primal. You can’t help but feel it, especially when it matters.”

For a few moments, the two men say nothing, but hold their stares towards one another. But much to Will’s surprise, he feels the hairs on the back of his neck stand up, and his stomach lightly roils on itself.

He is the first to break his gaze away from Dr. Lecter.

“You’re feeling it now, aren’t you?”

Will doesn’t answer.

Because it isn’t distrust that has gotten to him.

It’s pure fear.

-xXx-

“How did your first session with Dr. Lecter go?” Jack asks him the next day as they’re driving to Wolf Trapp.

Will breaks his gaze away from the car window and the trees blurring outside the cab of the car, and he frowns, “I’m not sure… Dr. Lecter… he’s different.”

“He is one of a kind—” Jack starts, but Will stops him.

“No. Not like that,” he murmurs, and it prompts Jack to send Will a bit of a worried glance before he’s back to eyeing the road, “There is something… something off. I’m not sure what.”

Jack huffs, “Well, you’re the first to think that.”

“I felt that something was off,” Will corrects, and he crosses his arms.

Beside him, Jack laughs, “You sound like you’ve seen a ghost, Will. I can assure you, Dr. Lecter is a trusted partner of the bureau. I’ve met him myself. No one has ever had any issues, except you,” at that, Jack adds, “This isn’t some ploy to get out of seeing him, is it?”

“What? No,” Will glares at Jack then, “This isn’t some ploy or joke or whatever it is that you may think I’m supposedly trying to orchestrate. It’s just the truth… There’s just something about Dr. Lecter that isn’t right...”

“I don’t mean this with any offense, Will, I truly don’t, but some would argue that about you.”

At his words, he effectively quiets Will, and a bit of tension seeps into the air of the car. Jack doesn’t seem to be bothered by it, he most likely doesn’t care, and so Will is left to stew in his turmoil.

He goes back to looking out the window, the trees as distorted from speed as he is by his feelings over Dr. Lecter.

-xXx-

That night, Will downs about half of his bottle of scotch.

It doesn’t little to help, but it takes off the edge, which is what Will needs right now. He’s still too unsettled from earlier, both with his meeting with Dr. Lecter, and his conversation with Jack.

For a man so hellbent on following Will’s hunches, his complete and utter denial about Dr. Lecter is a sting that Will wasn’t expecting.

It’s not that he cares, per say. Just that, he would’ve thought that Jack had more stock in him. He’s already fighting this hard to get Will the green light to be reinstated, and yet, Jack’s still so quick to devalue him.

It keeps him up a bit, to the point where the buzz of his scotch wears on into a light hangover, and his eyes burn from fatigue.

If anything, the feeling is getting worse, and the sinking feeling inside of Will has turned into a gaping pit of unease, making the man toss and turn as his heart pounds away in his chest.

He almost feels like a child who is afraid of the dark, his senses going haywire for no reason at all, until Will happens to flip over towards the wall in his bedroom that has a window.

Will freezes entirely, realizing there is a silhouette of someone standing outside of his window in the moonlight.

Will’s body is frozen, so tense from fear that he can’t move, aside from the rapid rise and fall of his chest. His heart hammers away at his ribs, and Will notes how this person — whoever they may be — starts to move.

Will freaks, and he jumps out of bed, causing whoever had been spying on him to sprint away before Will could get a good look at them.

He grabs his gun out of his nightstand, adrenaline working him up now to the point where his knuckles pop around the grip of the gun.

In the living room, all of his dogs are on alert, hackles raised and growling at the front door as Will makes his way towards it. He makes sure the click the safety off on his pistol, swallowing harshly as the outdoor floodlights, motion-activated, come on in the front yard.

With a high amount of resolve, Will unlocks his door with a minor tremor in his hand, and he quickly pulls the door back once the lock is undone, his gun at the ready.

He does a quick scan with the barrel across the expanse of his front yard, eyes darting about as they try to find a figure among the surrounding darkness that his floodlights cannot illuminate.

“I have a gun!” Will shouts into what seems like nothing, and he can tell that he sounds rattled to the core.

His only reply is the soft echo of his own shouts in the distance.

Will’s stomach is still doing flips, and he has to try and ground himself as he begins to take steps back into his house. His gun is still raised, and it remains that way, pointed towards whoever may be lurking in the dark, until Will has made sure his door is locked firmly.

His dogs are a bit more relaxed now, but Will can tell they are still shaken themselves. Winston is even whining, his tail in between his legs.

“So much for sleeping tonight…” Will murmurs, still breathless and keyed up.

He makes sure to switch the safety back on his gun, and collapses on the couch with it still in his hand.

-xXx-

“So, you’re absolutely certain that someone was outside your window last night?” Jack asks from where he’s sitting at Will’s kitchen table, nursing a fresh cup of coffee.

“Yes. They were standing right outside my bedroom, watching me. Spooked the dogs, too.”

Jack breathes out sharply through his nose, pinching its bridge as he levels a look at Will, “Do you know anyone that would try and snoop on you like that?”

“I don’t have anyone in particular in mind,” Will admits, and he takes a quick sip of his coffee before adding, “But I know that there are a lot of people who don’t think kindly of me.”

Jack doesn’t argue with that point, and he hums, nodding lightly.

“What are you going to do about it then?”

Will sighs, and he sets his mug down so he can run a hand through his mop of curls, “I’m going to put curtains and blinds on the window, that’s for damn sure… I’ll get some extra locks, too. Move the dogs to my bedroom.”

From the table, Jack pointedly sends a glance towards the countertop where Will’s firearm rests, “And about the gun?”

“I’m hoping I won’t have to use it,” Will murmurs, “But if someone is trying to break into my house while I’m sleeping, you can understand why I’d like to have it near me.”

Jack doesn’t comment, but Will can see the confliction he has about it.

About how a man who couldn’t fire a gun years ago was able to clear twelve bullets into another man out of nowhere and is now planning on having it by his bedside for the possibility to use it again.

“I want you to see Dr. Lecter again, first.”

The words cause Will’s mouth to fall slightly agape, “Jack—”

“I want to be sure that you can be trusted with it, even now,” Jack is adamant, and Will grips the edge of his counter tightly, “If there is someone trying to break in, is stalking you, whatever it was they were doing last night, I want to know that you’ll be safe with that gun.”

“And you think Dr. Lecter is going to be the solution for that?” Will gripes.

His superior shoots Will a terse look, making the profiler avert his gaze pointedly.

“You’ve gone through a lot recently, Will. And if there is someone who is staking after you, I need to know that you are going to be able to handle it.”

With a frustrated sigh, Will asks, “So are you going to call Dr. Lecter, or do I get the honors?”

“I’ll give you till tonight. Otherwise, I’ll make the call.”

It makes Will roll his eyes, but he reaches for his phone nonetheless, “No need.”

-xXx-

“Ah, Mr. Graham!” Will nearly grinds his teeth together at the chipper tone to Dr. Lecter’s voice, “What do I owe the pleasure to for you call?”

“I’ve been told that we need to have another session sooner rather than later.”

On the other end of the line, Dr. Lecter hums, “Did something happen?”

Will plans on offering no answer, but Jack’s stern look from the driver’s seat makes him fold, “Jack wants to be sure that I can use my gun from here on out. Personally.”

“Why on earth would you need to be granted personal usage?”

“Because someone was outside my window last night, and I think they were trying to break in,” Will snips, and it causes Dr. Lecter to go quiet— Jack sends Will another look, and Will sighs, his voice growing soft, “He just wants to know if I can be able to protect myself or not, considering the circumstances…”

Dr. Lecter shuffles some papers around over the phone, “When are you coming in?”

“Jack is already driving me up there… If that’s alright,” Will makes sure to add.

“I would be more concerned if you weren’t seeing me as soon as possible, with the situation at hand,” Dr. Lecter assures, and Will just glares out of the passenger side window as the doctor goes on, “How long till you arrive?”

Jack speaks then, “About an hour or so. We left as soon as we agreed that seeing you was the best course of action.”

Agreed. Sure. Like Jack hadn’t forced Will to do this at all.

“I await your arrival, then,” Dr. Lecter states, and Will wishes that the call would just end already, “Drive safe.”

Jack bids the doctor goodbye, while all Will offers is the sound of his finger hitting the end-call button.

With a huff, Jack shakes his head, “You really are the worst with manners.”

“Please, Jack,” Will lightly scoffs as he pockets his phone, “It’s not life or death.”

-xXx-

As Will steps back into Hannibal’s office, he can already feel the same tension as he felt the first time he visited.

Jack seems just fine, but more relaxed and sociable, if anything. Will supposes it’s the fact that Dr. Lecter found this to be the perfect opportunity to make them dinner.

“It’s the least I could do since you drove all this way,” Dr. Lecter told them as he led them to his extravagant dining room, “Besides, I am comforted more by the idea of having to wash dishes than to let Mr. Graham return home.”

Dr. Lecter presents it as a concern for Will’s safety, but, Will’s gut tells him otherwise. Jack, on the other hand, finds nothing amiss. Especially since he found his fork, and is far more interested in the roast before him than the way that Dr. Lecter chances an almost predatory glance at Will across the dining table.

“I know that it seems rather unprofessional to do this over a finely cooked meal,” he starts, and Will digs his fork harder into the roast than necessary, “but I felt that this would be a good way to loosen some tension after this recent incident.”

Jack swallows, and he smiles at the doctor while Will glares, “There isn’t a problem with that, Dr. Lecter! If anything, I’m honored that I finally have gotten to eat some of your infamous food. Alana always goes on and on about it whenever she gets the chance!”

At the praise, Dr. Lecter beams with pride, his chest rising and shoulders squaring in a way that does not speak of shame at the blatant egotism he’s sporting, “I’m pleased to know that you are enjoying the meal, Agent Crawford,” but without missing a beat, Dr. Lecter turns to Will, and his eyes narrow on the profiler before him in an almost critical way.

“And what about you, William?”

Will finishes chewing the small bite that he had taken on the roast, and it doesn’t go down as gently as it should at the sudden lack of formalities.

William…

When did Dr. Lecter make the decision to be so personal?

Jack is seemingly oblivious to all that is happening, especially with the way that Dr. Lecter’s focused assessment doesn’t falter in the slightest.

“It’s good…” Will murmurs, and he doesn’t miss the way that Dr. Lecter’s eyes narrow slightly at the words, “I’m usually not a fan of roasts…”

“I apologize if the meal of choice isn’t to your liking,” Dr. Lecter concedes, and he leans back in his chair, gaze thoughtful, “Perhaps I can prepare something more to your tastes next time?”

Next time.

Will feels sweat begin to form on the back of his neck, and his gut twinges in a familiar way at the words.

“We’ll see,” is what Will settles on saying.

He can see the way the words challenge Dr. Lecter, and he isn’t sure about whether or not that challenge is a good, or bad, thing.

“So,” Dr. Lecter begins, and he takes a knife to his roast, his movements calculated as he sinks the silverware into the cooked meat, “there was someone trying to break into your house last night.”

Will nods lightly, and sets his fork down in the face of conversation, “I saw them outside my window… It was too dark to get a good look at them, but I was barely able to make out their silhouette.”

Dr. Lecter hums, slowing the movement of his knife, “Are break-in’s common in your area?”

“Not really. There aren’t many people that live around me. My closest neighbor is about five miles away.”

“So you’re essentially isolated?”

Will repositions himself in his seat some, not particularly enjoying the thoughtful look on Dr. Lecter’s face, “I wouldn’t say isolated... Maybe just barely remote…”

“Does anyone live with you?”

Will doesn’t want to answer truthfully, but with the way that Jack glances Will’s’ way why he eats, he knows there isn’t much he can do otherwise, “I live alone.”

“Ah, I see,” Dr. Lecter takes a small bit of meat off of his portion of roast.

Will watches the man before him take the meat into his mouth, chewing delicately for a moment before he swallows, eyes tracking the way that Will breathes in uneasily.

“It’s why it’s important that I get cleared as soon as possible by you,” Will states, trying to put more spine into his voice, “I need to be able to protect myself if this person tries to do something else.”

Dr. Lecter doesn’t shift his gaze away from Will as he sits back some in his seat, raising his chin then as he speaks, “Are you taking any other precautions than that of a gun, William?”

Will’s palms feel clammy, and he looks over to where Jack is eating his roast without any idea about the tension between the two men before him.

“Of course…” Will starts, “Jack already took me to the hardware store, and helped me install more locks on my door and windows.”

“Is that really all you’ve done?”

To Jack, it may seem that it is asked out of concern, but there is a twinge to Hannibal’s voice then. One that sounds almost like disappointment in some way. Disbelief.

As though he can’t fathom as to why Will has done so little after finding someone standing outside his window.

“I’m here trying to get permitted to use my gun again, aren’t I?” Will retorts with some heat.

“Will,” Jack warns from off to the side.

Dr. Lecter raises his hands in mock surrender, and smiles lightly, “No need to reprimand, Jack. I overstepped and was asking questions with obvious answers,” Jack settles some at Dr. Lecter’s reassurance, but Will doesn’t feel any better for it, “I don’t intend to offend you, William. I’m merely inquisitive as to how you are trying to prevent something from happening to you in light of what occurred.”

“Well, you know now…” Will trails off for a second, and at the second look that Jack gives him at his harshness, Will begrudgingly adds, “Sorry if I’m a bit snappy at the moment…”

“No need to apologize, William,” Dr. Lecter is smiling, the expression nothing but teeth, “I can imagine that you’re a bit on edge after last night.”

If anything, he’s been on edge after he arrived on Dr. Lecter’s doorstep.

But, Will doesn’t reply. He just drops his gaze, hoping that the conversation will do the same once he takes his fork into his hand to get another bit of the roast set before him.

And, as Will takes a bite, the food on the fork slipping past his lips and into his mouth, he doesn’t miss the way that Dr. Lecter smiles at the sight of him eating.

-xXx-

After their meal, Jack ends up having to take a call outside, and it leaves Will and Dr. Lecter alone in the kitchen.

Will isn’t fond of his predicament, but at the very least, he’s getting to nurse a glass of some very fine merlot, and that does make it a little easier to cope with.

He takes a swig of his wine, leaning along the kitchen island, eyeing the Dr. Lecter’s shoulders somewhat sourly as the man washes the dishes from their dinner. Will figures it’s only a matter of time, with Jack out of the room, for Dr. Lecter to start asking questions.

As Dr. Lecter starts working away at a dirtied pan, he does as expected.

“So this intruder,” he begins, leading to a frown growing on Will’s lips, “do you believe they may come after you again?”

It’s a bit of an odd question, but Will answers it nonetheless, “I’m not sure. But I’d like to be prepared, considering.”

Dr. Lecter glances over his shoulder then, “Considering?”

“I’ve learned not to trust crazy,” he murmurs, and overlooks the lip of his glass as he drinks his wine, eyes leveled with Dr. Lecter’s.

“That’s a specific choice of words,” is what the other man replies with.

Will shrugs, looking away towards the stove, “When you work with them, have to think and feel like them, you learn early on that it’s best to take precaution.”

“Your empathy makes it hard for you to have that precaution, does it not?” Dr. Lecter asks, casually using a cloth to work at the baked-on mess on his dishware, his forearms disappearing into a void of foam and steaming water, “Jack informed me about your issue of disassociating with those you are made to connect with… Specifically Hobbs—”

“He isn’t a problem,” Will grits out.

Dr. Lecter pauses, and he pivots his torso so that he can face Will more directly.

“He isn’t?”

Will glares, pointedly saying, “No. He isn’t.”

“Then the issue with the Hobbs case lies within you?” Dr. Lecter questions, his head tilting some then as he speaks in such a level manner— it makes Will clench his jaw, “You are here over it, over him, are you not?”

“I’m here because I put twelve bullets into his chest, without hesitation.”

Dr. Lecter’s eyes narrow, and Will swears there is a subtle quirk of his lips before he speaks, “So the issue does lie with you.”

“It should lie with Hobbs,” Will smarts, “He was going to kill me if I didn’t kill him first.”

“So it was out of self-defense.”

Of course it was!” the profiler hisses, “He had already attacked his wife, and his daughter— I was by myself. I had to shoot him.”

Dr. Lecter raises a brow, “Twelve times?”

Will presses his lips together tightly, the color draining from his face.

“You think you’re protecting yourself now, but there’s more to it, isn’t there?” Dr. Lecter murmurs, and he abandons the sink to come towards Will, “Before, during training, there was no need for it. No reason for you to pull the trigger. You couldn’t fire a single bullet. But, Hobbs gives you reason, and suddenly you are able to perform without any hesitation.”

Will’s eyes widen, and Hannibal smiles lightly.

“From zero bullets to twelve… There’s not a shred of doubt in my mind that he’s afraid of why you were able to forgo your previous inaction. Especially since you’re so steadfast about using it again, not even a month after you unexpectedly emptied your clip into Hobbs’ chest.”

“You are—"

Dr. Lecter tsks, a light reprimand for Will apparently interrupting his spiel— it makes Will feel sick to his stomach.

“You like the upper hand it gives you. You like the way that it guarantees you won’t be the one getting bagged up at the end of things,” the words make Will grip onto the stem of his wine glass tightly, his throat flexing harshly as he swallows, “You like the power of it, don’t you? The way you feel afterward?”

“Dr. Lecter,” Will’s voice sounds as though his vocal cords are grating on sandpaper, guttural and worn, “That’s enough—“

“It must be frightening. Knowing what you’re capable of. But, also being so allured by it. The way you’ve felt so powerless in the face of others’ darkness, only for you to discover you have your own that makes you just as strong as they are. If not more,” Dr. Lecter takes a step forward, “But the terrifying detail that is plaguing you at this very moment?” Dr. Lecter stops right in front of Will, and his voice lowers itself, and something twinges in Will’s lower gut, “You are wondering if you truly even need a gun to feel that way, next time.”

The wine glass in Will’s hand breaks, shattering in his grasp.

The leftover wine turns Will’s skin a dark maroon, and Will inhales sharply at the sight of it before the pain from his palm registers.

Shit,” Will curses.

Dr. Lecter says nothing as Will starts to panic, his breathing rushed and his mind racing as he brings a shaking hand to his wrist, trying to keep it as steady as he can while he trembles.

Without a word, Dr. Lecter grabs ahold of Will’s wrist, the doctor’s hand stable as it blankets Will’s own.

In his shock, Will is unable to truly protest the action, but a noise, similar to a pathetic whimper, escapes him.

“You’re having a panic attack,” Dr. Lecter says evenly, not even disturbed in the slightest at Will’s current state, “Try regulating your breathing. Count, if you must.”

Will isn’t able to grasp onto numbers, especially when Dr. Lecter opens up Will’s injured hand, eliciting a small, wounded cry from the profiler.

His right hand is absolutely torn up, glass sticking out from his hand as blood wells out in rivulets, hot and dark against his pale skin.

“You may need stitches,” Dr. Lecter concedes, “We will go to my office. I have a first aid kit there with all the items I will need.”

Will shoots a completely distrustful look towards the other man, and he tries to pull his hand away.

“I worked at Hopkins, and was an ER doctor before I transitioned into therapy,” Dr. Lecter states easily, “I am trained and still licensed in medical care, as I do have patients who often injure themselves, and require such measures.”

Will settles some at that, but he is still completely feeling the same unease from before, if not amplified. Especially after the way that Dr. Lecter just dissected him in the kitchen.

Dr. Lecter makes no mention of his earlier onslaught, acting as though it never happened. He is silent, working away at Will’s hand on his desk, not even batting an eyelash as blood drips onto what Will knows is an expensive piece of furniture.

It’s as Dr. Lecter is removing another shard of glass as Jack walks in, making the man curse as he rushes over.

“Jesus— what happened!?” Jack shouts, and Will winces as Dr. Lecter takes the piece of glass out of his hand with tweezers.

“An unfortunate accident with a wine glass,” Dr. Lecter says easily, and if Will didn’t know any better, he would almost believe it himself.

Jack curses again, and runs a hand through his hair, “Is Will going to be alright?”

“Yes,” Dr. Lecter states, and Will is almost angered at the fact that the doctor speaks for him, but with the way that the leftover panic still holds onto his tongue greedily, he knows he couldn’t answer if he tried, “It’s not too serious of an injury. He does need a stitch or two, however, and I can also prescribe painkillers that you may pick up on the drive back. But, he isn’t in any grave condition.”

“Will he be able to work?”

The questions spurs Dr. Lecter to furrow his brow, “Physically, or mentally?”

His brashness matches Jack’s own, as he doesn’t hesitate to clarify, “Both.”

“His hand should be fine in a few weeks, after which I can remove the stitches and make sure that there is no other damage caused to his hand. Otherwise, on the mental side of things, I would leave it up to Will.”

Will blinks then, not expecting to be brought into the conversation, despite the fact it is centered on him.

“What do you mean, leave it up to him?” Jack asks, his confusion mixing with a small amount of irritation.

“Will has been going through quite a lot these past few weeks. I wouldn’t want to give him the go-ahead for field work if he doesn’t want it,” at Jack’s souring expression, Dr. Lecter adds, “It’s just to be sure that we’re all on the same page. Full transparency,” when Jack doesn’t look convinced, Dr. Lecter explains, “With his hand being injured and unable to use it, you could skip getting him cleared for his gun.”

Will’s stomach sinks some, while Jack seems elated for a brief moment.

But, then, Jack purses his lips, and Will knows for a fact that he wasn’t expecting Hannibal to leave the ball in the profiler’s court, before his superior levels a look towards him, “I don’t want to push you into making a decision, but I need to know as soon as possible about whether or not you think you can come back. There’s been a development.”

“Development?” Dr. Lecter echoes.

“I’m getting on a plane headed towards Pennsylvania within the next hour,” Jack sighs, his shoulders heavy, “Zeller just called to tell me a body was discovered around Philly. They think it’s another Ripper case.”

Dr. Lecter straightens then, all seriousness, “He’s started again?”

“It doesn’t fit his pattern. It’s too early for him to start another string,” Jack admits, “But they want to be sure.”

“Then I suppose that means I am driving William back home,” Dr. Lecter hums, and Will doesn’t miss the way his grip on Will’s wrist tightens minutely.

Jack exhales haggardly, nodding, “That it does… I apologize for springing all of this on you, but I have no other choice. I’d let Will borrow my car and I’d catch a taxi, but with the condition of his hand...” he trails off.

“I can assure you, Agent Crawford, this is not imposing on me any. I am happy to help you and William out with these outstanding circumstances.”

And at the mention of Will, Jack looks over, his gaze softly narrowing, “Are you okay with this, Will?”

Will stares back at Jack for a split second, his hand aching like a reminder right before he looks over to Dr. Lecter.

“Seems like the situation hasn’t given me much of a choice to make.”

For Jack, it’s enough, because he nods either way, mind already on the job as he readies himself with the popping of his coat collar, “I would stay longer to talk all of this over, but I need to go ahead and leave now if I want to make my plane,” he takes a step towards the front door before pausing, turning some to face Will, “Message me whenever you make up your mind about coming back.”

With a slight grimace, Will watches Jack shut the door promptly, and shortly thereafter, the sound of his car’s engine drifts off as he drives away.

“Well, dear William, tonight has been quite eventful, hasn’t it?”

Will doesn’t reply, somewhat numbed as he blinks and outwardly unfazed as Dr. Lecter finishes stitching up the split flesh of his hand.

Because, despite the doctor’s words, the night has yet to be over.

Chapter Text

Will isn’t surprised that Dr. Lecter’s car is just as notable and upmarket as the doctor prefers, and he can’t help but detest the car some as he watches the road blur before them.

Dr. Lecter is also watching the road but is in a far better mood. Partly because Will expects Dr. Lecter likes being able to hover about him, and for the fact that Will’s hand, that aches with each beat of his heart, has rendered him in a state similar to that of a caretaker.

The smile the doctor sports is nothing but infuriating.

“You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?” Will presses then, unable to contain the words.

“Enjoying what?”

“Don’t play daft, it doesn’t suit you,” the profiler grumps, readjusting himself in the seat and wincing as he moves his injured hand.

Dr. Lecter chuckles once, shaking his head, “I do believe that it’s time you take your painkillers.”

“I’m not being this way just because my hand is bothering me,” Will objects, and he glares at the side of Dr. Lecter’s face, the orange glow of street lamps passing cutting sharp contrasts along his cheekbones, “I’m not going to pretend that what went down in your kitchen didn’t happen. That was way too far, even for a therapist that has a bit of a reputation for pushing buttons.”

“I will admit that I went a bit too far,” Dr. Lecter responds easily, like it’s no big deal that he insinuated that Will enjoyed killing Hobbs while washing up, “I sometimes do that without intending to… I have my own version of your empathy. But with mine, I can read people in ways that many consider invasive, or that they take personally. As you’re doing so now.”

“You told me that I wanted my gun back because I wanted to— to kill someone again,” Will rushes, “You made me sound like a sadistic psychopath…”

Dr. Lecter hums lightly, one of his hands flexing about the steering wheel, “I apologize if that is what my analyzation came across as. That wasn’t my intention.”

“There’s no other way to interpret it.”

The older man sighs, but he does not look away from the road before them, “William—”

“I don’t know where you also got the idea to say my name like that,” Will starts, voice heated as he rubs his fingers along the wrist of his right hand in an attempt to soothe himself, “but I don’t appreciate it…”

“Do you not like the lack of formality?” Dr. Lecter asks, genuinely curious.

“I don’t like a lot of the things you’ve been doing, quite frankly.”

His words make the doctor quiet some, “It seems that you are not fond of me.”

“Far from that, actually,” he doesn’t miss the way that makes Dr. Lecter lightly frown, “I have been shown no reason to change my feelings about you, and what you do. I didn’t like you from the start, and if tonight proves anything, it just goes to show that my distrust and dislike of you were justified.”

“That’s quite… unfortunate,” Dr. Lecter murmurs, and it seems that he wants the conversation to cease as he turns the radio on to a low volume.

Which, Will doesn’t have a problem with.

He’s too busy popping hydrocodone and aspirin into his mouth than to give a shit about talking.

-xXx-

When Will finally arrives back at his house in Wolf Trap, Virginia, he is sluggish with fatigue from both his adrenaline wearing off and his pain meds kicking in. He’s so tired that, despite their clashing, Dr. Lecter has to help Will get out of the car and into his house, having Will lean on him the whole way.

Dr. Lecter is the one that unlocks the door, and Will grumbles a delayed warning about the dogs, who bombard them both as soon as it’s opened.

“Fond of strays?” is what Dr. Lecter asks, but Will is too far gone to really answer with anything other than a dissociated mumble.

Dr. Lecter chuckles at Will sluggishness, stopping in the living room.

“Where is your bedroom, dear William?”

If Will had been more aware of himself — of who he is with — the question would’ve set Will off. But instead, in his drugged up and drowsy state, he dutifully points towards his room without a second thought.

“Thank you.”

Will hums an inaudible, wordless response, and lets himself be handled somewhat graciously to his bed.

He hits the mattress with a thump, the ceiling of his bedroom swirling in a whirlpool-esque motion as he breathes.

Will lays like that as Dr. Lecter partially undresses him, first removing his shoes and then his jacket, moving Will about like a ragdoll until he’s satisfied with Will’s approved state of minor undress.

“I hate medsssss…”

Dr. Lecter hums as he sets Will’s shoes neatly by his bedroom door, “And why is that?”

“Don’t like the way they make me feel,” Will somewhat slurs, stretching his neck along his pillow, “Everythin’... s-foggy…”

There is a pause before Dr. Lecter responds, “Do you wish me to write you another prescription, then?”

“S’fine… All of them do it…” Will lets his eyes slip shut, “Night, Dr. Lecter.”

“Goodnight, dear William…”

The sound of Dr. Lecter’s shoes along the hardwood floor lulls Will into a light sleep, the profiler turning on his side to burrow into his pillow as Dr. Lecter shuts the front door.

Will drifts off even further at the sound of Dr. Lecter’s expensive car starting, the sound of the engine running tapering off with distance and unconsciousness as Will lets exhaustion take him.

He’s only asleep for about five minutes.

Will wakes slowly at first, his eyes lightly fluttering open before shutting again, his breathing slow and relaxed.

Until he hears something scraping alongside his bedroom window pane.

Will instantly shifts up in his bed, eyes drawn to his window where it’s covered up by the new curtains that Jack helped install.

The fabric gingerly moves, lulled by the air vent below. It only allows Will tiny slits of the view outside, the moonlight an eerie glow with each peek that Will is given.

Will swallows, and he finds himself moving towards the window.

His gate is still a bit wobbly from his medication, but the shake to his good hand is nothing but adrenaline as he grips onto the edge of the curtain, fingers sinking hard into the fabric before he yanks them back.

No one.

A branch from the bush outside gently scrapes against the window as Will inspects the view visible to him with high scrutiny, his heart pounding as he lets out a sharp breath at his overreaction.

He’s about to pull the curtain back and scold himself as he decides to glance along the driveway, which is barely illuminated by the outside lights, triggered by Hannibal’s recent departure.

And the figure standing there, facing the window, watching Will.

For a second, Will almost thinks it's Hobbs, just as he was in the kitchen before Will put bullets into his chest. But Will has to remind himself. Hobbs is dead. It's someone else.

Someone who is now taking step forward towards Will, and breaks into a run.

Will shouts, and quickly yanks the curtain back into place.

Will's right hand aches as he falls back, barely catching his weight with it and causing the stitches to pull some as the profiler begins to panic.

Will makes sure to grab his gun, trembling as he loads it as best he can with his good hand. He’s able to get a few bullets loaded, and right as he is able to get it put back together, there is a definite thump at the front door.

Will stiffens, instantly stilling as his heart hammers against his ribcage.

His dogs are growling in the foyer again, ears laid back and teeth bared towards the front door as the poor wood is slammed against once again.

The sound of it echoes through the house, and spurs Will to grab ahold of his cell phone, laid by the bed by—

By Dr. Lecter.

He shouldn’t be but fifteen minutes out… Far closer than any cop would be if Will were to dial 911.

Out of panic, Will barely manages to get Dr. Lecter’s contact pulled up on his phone, the onslaught against the front door continuing as the phone rings only once before he is answered.

“William?”

Help me—” Will rushes, right as another slam against the door reverberates through the house and shakes Will to his core, “They’re back—"

“Will,” the sound of screeching tires is apparent over the line, as well as the sound of Dr. Lecter accelerating dramatically, “I need you to get somewhere safe— I’m on my way.”

“Hurry, please,” Will’s voice breaks, and he drops his phone as whoever is outside slams against the door even harder.

Will hears Dr. Lecter’s voice faintly calling his name from wherever his phone landed on the floor, but Will’s focus is on his front door, and where the porch light from underneath is obscured by whoever is trying to break inside.

With his good hand, Will raises his gun, the barrel not steady whatsoever as Will aims as best he can, his breathing sharp and quick, almost pained.

In horror, Will watches as whoever is outside moves, their shadow going towards the left— running towards his—

Will is frozen to the spot, his eyes going to the small window by the kitchen sink, and can see where the figure rushes by it, heading directly towards his bedroom.

Cursing, Will aims his pistol towards his bedroom window once more.

A few moments of silence pass, and Will is still aiming his gun towards the window and awaiting the telltale crack of glass.

But it doesn’t come.

Instead, the sound of his front door being kicked in is what he hears.

Will instantly moves his gun towards it, and without thinking, fires.

For a minute, it takes Will to realize what has just occurred, and he stares towards his doorway until everything finally catches up with him.

He just fired his gun.

At Dr. Lecter.

Dr. Lecter stands in the doorway panting, holding his own pistol and seemingly taking in the fact that Will just shot at him. Needless to say, he seems uncharacteristically shaken.

Ohmygod,” Will rushes, and he drops the gun without thinking, staggering a bit from shock, “Dr. Lecter, I—”

“I haven’t been hit,” Dr. Lecter says, voice level, but his gaze extremely questioning and almost guarded, “Are they in the house?” he rushes.

Will shakes his head, “He was by the window…”

Dr. Lecter nods, but doesn’t say anything else. And, despite the fact he was nearly hit by a bullet, he quickly leaves the doorway, moving towards the outside of the house, his own gun at the ready.

Will is left in his house, alone, shell-shocked and nearly hyperventilating as he waits, his dogs scurrying over to him, tails between their legs.

He doesn’t know how much time has passed, but when Dr. Lecter comes back, his gun is holstered, and a scowl is apparent on his face.

“Are you hurt?”

Will shakes his head, inhaling sharply before he breathes out, shaky and almost crying, “I almost shot you…”

“Will, I told you—”

“It doesn’t matter what you tell me, it matters that I pulled the—” Will starts, hissing his words until he stops himself short, shaking his head and poorly trying to ground himself, “Are they gone? . . .”

Dr. Lecter’s expression softens some, and he murmurs, “I scoured the woods and the area around your house. I found nothing amiss, or anyone nearby. I’m afraid they got away.”

“Of fucking course,” Will curses.

Dr. Lecter comes closer, the dogs parting way to allow him to get near Will.

The doctor cups Will’s face, and Will allows it, his eyes blurry from the way they have watered up at the fact he nearly just shot an innocent man because he couldn’t hold it together.

“William,” Dr. Lecter starts, and his voice is warm and smooth as Will tries to look at the man in the eyes, but fails completely out of shame and utter mortification, “I am not angry or upset with you. You had every reason to fire, thinking I was someone coming to hurt you.”

“But you’re not—” Will hiccups, and he pushes Dr. Lecter’s hands away lightly, turning his head away so he isn’t facing the doctor as the night’s wear on him becomes evident.

Dr. Lecter catches Will’s right hand, and Will turns just enough to see the man is frowning.

“You are hurt,” he says softly, eyes narrowed along Will’s palm, “You pulled your stitches…”

Will can’t feel any pain from his hand, be it from the rush of having someone try and break in again, or his pain medications, he doesn’t know. But, he can make out the rivulet of blood working its way down his wrist and forearm.

“I must’ve… when I fell back at the window…” he mumbles to himself, distant and low.

Dr. Lecter’s brow pinches lightly in thought, and he takes a chance to glance at Will, evaluating the profiler, before he says, “William, while you may consider this brash, I believe it may be best that you stay with me tonight.”

And before, Will would’ve argued— would’ve fought tooth and nail over such a fate.

But with his front door off its hinges, and with the way that he knows for certain that he couldn’t go back into his room and sleep no matter how hard he tried, he knows it’s a settled matter.

Especially with Jack and most of the team gone to investigate the supposed Ripper victim in Philadelphia. Having to call them back — to explain all this and why he almost shot Dr. Lecter— he has no other options.

So, Will just nods, because it’s probably for the best in general that he not be left alone here for the night…

“What about my dogs?” Will asks then, quiet.

Dr. Lecter looks pained for a moment, like having any canine in his car would be the death of him, and most likely, for the upholstery.

“I’m not leaving my dogs,” the profiler asserts, and despite his mess of a state, he sends a strong look Dr. Lecter’s way that leaves no room for argument, “They can’t stay here, either.”

For a moment, it seems that Dr. Lecter is going to argue with Will all he can, but as Will holds strong — keeping his eyes locked with the doctor’s and his expression just as stern — the older man folds with a soft sigh, and a slump of his shoulders.

“They can come with us,” the doctor states in a neutral voice, “But,” he begins, as there is always a catch, “they have to stay in the backseat.”

“Buster sits in my lap,” Will murmurs, “Cars give him anxiety.”

Dr. Lecter almost looks pressed to refute those words, but he yet again deflates and nods simply, extending a hand to Will like a parent would do to guide them along— like he needs the coddling, “Come on. Let’s get them rounded up as quickly as possible. We need to leave as soon as we’re able.”

And that, Will cannot argue.

-xXx-

The drive back to Baltimore has been relatively quiet.

Dr. Lecter has done most of the heavy lifting and work, moving Winston and the others into the backseat of his precious, expensive SUV. It would almost be comical— but Will is too shell-shocked, drugged, and tired to laugh at the current moment.

Winston pants against Will’s forearm, his head jutted in between the space of Will and Dr. Lecter’s seats as he happily glances between the two men, tail thumping against the leather seating with a dull thud. Dr. Lecter seems a bit displeased with the development, but he thankfully holds his tongue and drives on committedly. It leaves Will to pet Buster with his good hand, while he has bloodied gauze hastily wrapped around the other.

“I’ll fix it up properly once I’m able,” Dr. Lecter says softly, side-eyeing the contrast of white and crimson bandaging on Will’s hand for a split second before his gaze breaks back to focus on the road.

“At least it doesn’t hurt,” Will sighs, and he looks up to see where the road is lost to darkness before them, and he breathes, “Did you believe me before this?”

“Believe you?” Dr. Lecter parrots, “What was there to believe?”

“That someone was outside my house that night, the first time,” Will says easily, like he’s reciting the events of a dream or of someone else’s misfortunes.

Will doesn’t have to look over to know a pensive expression has worked its way onto Dr. Lecter’s face— lips pressed together, eyebrows drawn. The doctor hums.

“I was neither believing nor disbelieving.”

“So, neither are your answer,” Will huffs, and he turns his head to look at the man driving, “I’m not asking for you to spare my feelings, or to play neutral with me as all therapists or psychologists or whoever is getting in my head likes to do. I just want the truth. Did you believe me before tonight, or are you like Jack who just thinks I treat my gun as a crutch?”

The doctor is unnervingly quiet after that, and Will does not look away from the side of his face as the man’s hands tighten along the steering wheel.

“I believe the situation is more complicated than that. There are other factors that—”

“Don’t start with a complex prognosis spiel. It doesn’t matter if you think I have PTSD like the others do, or that I’m barely hinged at all— that my sense of empathy gives me no ability to discern myself from those Jack sends me after,” Will grits his teeth some as he watches Dr. Lecter frown lightly, “I just want to know the black and white— did you believe me or not?”

And, with a solemn exhale, the great Dr. Lecter finally caves.

“No... I did not.”