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It had been winter for as long as Will could remember.

Oh, he had memories of summers and falls and springs. Mosquito-filled summer nights in Louisiana; watching the leaves change color in South Carolina; spotting the first crocus in Ohio. But it had been winter when he started at George Washington, and winter when he graduated, winter when he got his job at Quantico, winter when he bought his house in Wolf Trap, Virginia. He'd found all his dogs outside in the snow, shivering and wet.

As far as they could tell, the perpetual winter had started almost thirty years ago, around Washington, D.C. It had spread outward steadily for the first few years, capturing Delaware and most of Pennsylvania and Virginia, and half of West Virginia as well. But after that it'd held steady, much to the region's relief. They'd thought it would pass; Italy and France had both suffered from such local phenomena, the decade before, and theirs had resolved in a few years. But five years passed, then ten, then fifteen. Now the region was a popular destination for cross-country skiers, meteorologists, and natural magic students, but it was steadily losing residents to warmer climes in Florida, Arizona, California.

Will was not one of them. He liked his farmhouse; he thought he might even like his job, such as it was. The winter was just one more thing to deal with, in a life where there were always things you had to deal with.

***

"What is your Gift?" Dr. Lecter asked him.

It was a bit of a personal question, but then again, this was ostensibly therapy. Will sighed. "What's yours?" he bit out.

Dr. Lecter merely nodded, as if this was a fair question, and walked over to one of the many cabinets that lined the walls of his office. He opened it and withdrew a long-stemmed wine glass--who kept wine glasses in their office?--which he held up for Will to see. "You will need to watch carefully," he said, and dropped it.

Will did watch carefully, and the wine glass paused in midair, just briefly, before finishing its descent, more slowly than it had begun, to shatter on the floor. Only then did Will blink, several times. "What was that?" he asked. "Some kind of telekinesis?"

"A form of time control, so much as anyone can tell." Dr. Lecter adjusted his cuffs and returned to lean against his desk where he had been before, looking up at Will on the mezzanine. "The ability to slow time in a very localized way, for short bursts. It was useful in the surgery theater."

Will could imagine that it had been. "Why did you leave surgery?" he asked.

"I killed someone," Dr. Lecter answered. "Or I felt like I had."

Will could see it. A surgeon imbued with this godlike power of being able to slow time, to see when an artery had been nicked and rush to correct it, or who could slow the time around a wound so that he could act with such delicacy and precision that errors would never be made in the first place. He must have had an astonishing success rate. They must have referred all their delicate procedures to him. But here he was now, a practicing psychiatrist who probably had no use for slowing time at all, except maybe to catch a glass when he accidentally dropped it.

Will descended the ladder without speaking. He strode over to where the pieces of the wine glass still remained on the floor, aware that Dr. Lecter was surely tracking his every movement. This was what Will hated about therapy, among all the other things he hated about therapy: the feeling that his every movement and word was being analyzed. He ignored it and picked up some of the larger shards of the wine glass, two large curved pieces and the flat base that had once supported the stem. He arranged them on the floor in roughly the configuration they had been in when the glass was whole, left his hand on the glass, and held his breath.

It took a while; some of the pieces had scattered pretty far across the floor. But they came spinning back, leaping into their old places and sealing up the fissures. Less than a minute later, the glass was whole on Dr. Lecter's office floor, and Will picked it up and handed it to Dr. Lecter, who by this time had come closer to watch.

"It's only good for minor repairs," Will said. "Nothing bigger than a boat motor, not that I've really tried, and it only works on inanimate objects. Nothing biological."

Dr. Lecter inspected the glass. "This is incredible. It's a sort of reversal of time."

Will forced out a nervous chuckle. "I guess you could put it that way. The tester classified it as a repair Gift."

"To repair is, in a way, to turn back time." Dr. Lecter opened the cabinet and returned the glass to its place. "I'm surprised you didn't go into it as a career."

"It's what my dad did, though he didn't have a Gift to help him with it," said Will. "I didn't want to follow in his footsteps. It was good work, steady work, but I wanted something different." He'd wanted to be a cop, help people, stop bad guys. His father hadn't liked the idea much; to him, police were avatars of The Man, existing solely to give him tickets and abridge his liberty. Will got up off his knees and brushed nonexistent dust off his corduroys.

"I can't say I'm sorry for it." Dr. Lecter was bent over his desk and scribbling with a pen. He held it up for Will to see; it was some kind of official stationery, but it was too far away for Will to read. "It's official: you are more or less sane."

Will blinked. "Did you just rubber stamp me?"

Dr. Lecter let the paper fall back to the surface of the desk. "Now Jack Crawford can sleep soundly at night and our conversation can continue unimpeded by paperwork."

***

"What do you think causes the winter?" Will asked.

They often had their "conversations" outside. Will preferred that to Hannibal's office, spacious as it was. Hannibal never seemed to mind, which raised him in Will's estimation; he didn't have much time or respect for someone who shied away from the outdoors.

"The popular theory is that the federal government is being punished in some way," Hannibal said with a smile.

"You don't sound as if you believe it," Will said.

"We've had several changes of power since it began, with no discernible difference in the weather," said Hannibal. "And I hardly think nature cares about systems of government."

"So you think this is natural then?"

"Inasmuch as nature and magic are connected in ways that we don't quite understand," said Hannibal. "Not long ago, we thought the seasons were caused by deaths and rebirths of gods and goddesses. Now we understand that the seasons are caused by the Earth's orbit around the sun and the tilt of its axis, but that in and of itself doesn't seem so far removed from magic."

They passed by a hill where druids often gathered to try and influence the climate, or communicate with the earth, or whatever it was they did. There were about a dozen of them now, dressed in identical brown robes, standing in a circle and gesturing in unison. It had been autumn in Minnesota, when Will had gone to investigate the Shrike. The profusion of gold and crimson leaves had shocked him.

"I feel a little bad that we've brought Abigail here," Will said. "This is no place for a girl to recover. She needs...sunshine."

"It's winter in Minnesota as well now," Hannibal reminded him. "And the weather has improved, of late."

It had; the clouds had deigned to uncover the sun, and the perpetual snow crust had melted into the ground over the past few weeks, leaving churned mud in its wake. Will's dogs had been ecstatic. It was still cold, so that he and Hannibal wore gloves and coats and hats for their walk, one of those mid-winter thaws that gave everyone hope. But they hadn't had one of those in a long, long while.

"But she'll move on, I expect," Hannibal went on. "She doesn't have ties to the region, and she should go to college."

"Why do you stay?" Will asked. "I mean, some of us work here, but you could work anywhere in the country, couldn't you?"

Hannibal inclined his head. "I've grown used to my life here; perhaps it's a form of inertia. Besides, I have the seasons stored in my memory." He made a brief, abortive gesture toward his temple. "I can visit them wherever they like. The fireflies of summer; the smell of thawing earth in spring. They occupy rooms of my memory palace."

Will thought he understood; he had such memories of his own. In fact, Hannibal's words recalled them now: catching fireflies in a jar with his father; patrolling New Orleans with his shirt stuck to his back with sweat; he discovered that he missed, with startling viciousness, biting into a ripe peach fresh off the tree and feeling the juices run down his chin.

"What about you?" asked Hannibal. "Is it truly your work that keeps you here?"

"I don't know," Will said. "I thought so, but maybe it's just that I've gotten used to it."

***

Abigail Hobbs' Gift was a sort of minor hypnosis: she could compel people she'd just met at parties to laugh at her jokes, but little more than that.

"Or so she claims," Jack Crawford said.

"You saw her school records," Will said. Children were tested starting in fifth grade, when Gifts started to manifest; and again in high school, when puberty sometimes caused Gifts to go haywire. Abigail's records had stated that her Gift could make teachers find her charming, but not to alter her grades. She'd been disciplined several times for attempted manipulation before evidently learning her lesson and being a model student afterward.

"It's exactly the kind of Gift that would have come in handy on her father's...hunts," said Jack Crawford. "She needs to make eye contact for it to work. Well, her father certainly got up close and personal."

"Abigail Hobbs had nothing to do with this," Will growled, but even he couldn't have said why he was so protective. He couldn't help it; he'd saved her life. That made him responsible for her, didn't it? Dr. Lecter agreed. He felt "shockingly responsible," even.

So he couldn't be upset that Dr. Lecter brought her out of Port Haven to his house for dinner, nor that he invited Will, nor that he made breakfast for dinner. (Will liked breakfast for dinner.) What Abigail needed was to know that she had supportive adults in her life. (He ignored Alana's warning voice in her head. What did she know?)

"Thank you for feeding my dogs, while I was away," said Will. "It's been a while since I've had to travel so much for work."

"It was no trouble," said Hannibal; Will supposed he had to be on a first name basis with a man who'd entered his home to feed his dogs. "I brought Abigail with me, even."

"They were very good dogs," Abigail said.

"They are," Will agreed, with a swift, uncertain smile. He wondered if he'd used her Gift on his dogs. Abigail smiled back. She looked a little glassy-eyed; Hannibal had said that he'd had to give her a mild sedative, just before Will came over. That maybe it'd been a bad idea to have her over, after all, that he'd been rushing things a bit. It seemed unusual for Hannibal to apologize, and that endeared him to Will a little, that Hannibal could and would demonstrate humility. It was hard to remember that he'd once thought Hannibal stiff-necked and pompous.

"Abigail?" Hannibal said, and his voice was so gentle that it almost startled Will. "How are you feeling?"

"Good." Abigail's smile never faltered. She kept looking from Hannibal to Will and back to Hannibal again, her knife and fork held loosely in her hands.

"What do you see?" Hannibal queried.

Abigail's smile broadened. "Family," she said, proudly, and even if that had seemed strange, Will felt warmth bloom in his chest like blood in snow.

***

"You've never told me what you think causes the winter," said Hannibal.

They were playing dominos by the fireplace. Hannibal, it turned out, had never played before, and Will had delighted in bringing his set to one of their "conversations" and teaching him. He picked it up quickly, as Will had known he would, and Will was glad to have a partner again.

"There doesn't seem to be much point to speculating," said Will. "I'm more likely to be wrong than not, and that won't fix anything."

"Or you could be right," said Hannibal.

Will stirred the dominos with his finger. "Winter is an isolating time," he said at last. "People stay in their homes, they don't go out. It's cold and it's dark. There's too much time to sit alone and brood. Suicides go up."

Hannibal said nothing, but his posture indicated that he was listening attentively. The firelight flickered in his eyes.

Will placed the first domino. "Whatever's causing this winter, it's sad and lonely. Maybe it's the spirits, maybe it's human, or more than one human." He shrugged. "That part, I don't know."

"Do you think it's determined to make the rest of the region feel as it does?" Hannibal asked. He placed a domino.

"Probably not. I think that's just a side effect. It might not know it's doing it at all; it might be just as clueless about the perpetual winter as the rest of us." Will set his domino down with a click.

Hannibal selected two tiles from the boneyard before he found one to play. "It sounds very tragic."

"It's sad." Will played another domino. "But maybe it's getting better. The weather's been holding steady."

***

It was just as well the weather had been improving lately, because Will started a new habit of somnambulant excursions. He took to sleeping in his clothes, just in case he ended up on in the fields or up on the rooftop again; he was lucky he hadn't gotten frostbite from his midnight highway stroll. Hannibal said it was stress; Will felt out of control, and it was manifesting in these jaunts. Will ceded that, yes, he was stressed, what with all the dead bodies, but he maintained something wasn't right. But a brain scan had turned up no abnormalities, with a dead doctor in the bargain.

Meanwhile, Abigail Hobbs had been deemed well enough to have her Gift tested, to see how powerful it was, whether she could have manipulated these girls into doing her father's bidding, going with him. Alana Bloom was doing the testing; Hannibal had been deemed "too close" to the matter. Hannibal himself agreed. It drove Will crazy because Alana was not forthcoming at all about the results.

But Abigail was. "It's boring, mostly," she said one night, over dinner at Hannibal's home. "Especially since I really can't do all that much. Even if I had met them, all I could've done was make myself seem cool, so that they would've liked talking to me. It's all I've ever really used this Gift for. It's not very useful."

Will made no attempt to lessen the bitterness in his smile. "That makes two of us."

"Our Gifts have nothing to do with our usefulness or lack thereof as humans," Hannibal said. "We can use them for ill or for good, or for nothing at all; but we all have gifts that have nothing to do with magic. Such as your empathy, Will."

"Ha." Will stabbed his cherry tomato with his fork. "More like a curse."

"Not at all," Hannibal said. "I think it's beautiful."

Then it turned out that Abigail had killed Nicholas Boyle after all. Then Will took Abigail to Minnesota. Then--then he didn't remember. Then he threw up her ear. Then everything went terribly, horribly, downhill from there.

But he could see Hannibal clearly after that. Saw what Hannibal thought was so beautiful.

***

It was winter again when Will got out of the BSHCI, rather than the almost-but-not-quite spring when he'd gone in. He felt rather frozen over himself, knowing that Abigail was gone, that Beverly was gone, that Hannibal had been responsible for that. Will dug through his closet until he found the nice overcoat that he'd once bought on clearance years ago and hardly ever worn. It was just easier to shrug on a parka over his corduroys for his daily life. But now he had a vague idea that he wanted to change his presentation.

He resumed his therapy. Everyone looked at him like he was insane, especially Alana. Hannibal did not, and Will realized that was why he'd pulled out that overcoat: he wanted a coat that was worthy of the way Hannibal looked at him.

Of course, the problem with that was that Will could feel the way Hannibal felt when he looked at him. Hannibal thought Will was beautiful; he thought Will was lovely just the way he was. He didn't think Will's gift was bizarre or grotesque. He felt understood, in a way he'd never been understood before, and Will knew what that was like. He felt that way, too.

***

"The weather has been improving again," Will said. They were in Hannibal's home. Hannibal was playing the harpsichord; Will was sitting on the piano bench, not far away. Will had remarked, once, that he preferred the piano, and Hannibal had replied that the harpsichord was more of a challenge to compose for because all the notes had equal weight and length, and you couldn't alter them. But he'd bought a grand piano and put it in his music room, opposite the harpsichord as if they were about to duel.

But tonight he played the harpsichord, pushing out a few notes and pausing to add the dots to his staff paper, and then playing a few notes more. "Yes. It seems that no one knows what to make of it."

"It was bad while I was in prison, wasn't it?"

Hannibal did not correct Will's use of the word "prison." Jack and Alana called it "the hospital" or "the BSHCI," as if there hadn't been bars and armed guards. "Not bad, per se," Hannibal said. "It was no worse than it's been for the last twenty years."

"But not as good as it had been." Will gave a mirthless smile. He felt it stretch the sides of his face in an unnatural manner. "Maybe it's something to do with me. Maybe the weather gets better when I'm feeling better."

Hannibal actually paused in his music at that. "Are you feeling better?"

Will let his eyes drift shut for a moment. "Yeah."

The music picked up again. This time Hannibal did not appear to be composing so much as thinking out loud with his fingers. "Better in body or in spirit?"

"Both." They'd treated the encephalitis while Will had been in prison, and he found he almost couldn't remember the last time he'd been so clear-headed. But it wasn't just that. It was dinner, and lunch, and the way Hannibal looked at him, and how Hannibal had bought a piano just because Will had said he liked it. Will didn't want it to end, but he knew that it had to end.

"Do you know why?" Hannibal asked.

"Yeah," Will said, and he got up and came to sit down next to Hannibal at the bench. Hannibal just looked at him, and kept looking, until Will looked away. Hannibal went back to playing.

***

Will dreamed about Abigail that night. It wasn't one of the nice dreams, where Will taught her to fish or she gave all of Will's dogs silly nicknames. In this one, she was sitting in Will's recliner with her arms crossed, while Will stood helplessly over her like a lecturing father. She had a long red gash across her neck, like she had when Will had first met her, and her hair hung over the empty places where her ears used to be.

"I can't believe you're doing this to me," she said.

"What?" Will spread his hands. "What am I doing to you?"

"You're hanging out with him," she spat. "Like you're friends."

"We are friends," Will said.

"How can you be friends with someone like that?" Abigail demanded.

"I don't know," Will said. "I don't know. I don't know."

He told Hannibal about the dream the next day, although not in so many words. Just that he dreamed of Abigail often. This was true enough, and Hannibal looked at Will with sympathy and even regret in his eyes. It made Will want to punch him, but he settled for clenching his fists on the armrests. He thought Hannibal might like it, if Will punched him, and Will didn't want to give him the satisfaction.

Hannibal took a deep breath in through his nose and let it out in a long exhale. When he spoke it was with a distant, contemplative gaze, as if he was looking into another time. "Occasionally, in my kitchen, I drop a teacup to shatter on the floor," he said. Will bit his tongue to keep from interrupting what sounded like was going to be more bullshit philosophical storytime. "On purpose," Hannibal went on. "I'm not satisfied when it doesn't gather itself up again. But I keep trying. Someday, perhaps, a cup will come together."

"It doesn't work that way," Will said.

"It does for you," said Hannibal.

***

It was unusual to smell fire in Hannibal's office; Will associated woodsmoke with his own living room or Hannibal's parlor, glasses of whiskey in their hands. He had assumed the fireplace in Hannibal's office was decorative. But it burned now, along with Hannibal's papers and notes and even his stationery. Will glimpsed his own name in the flames. He thought he'd feel more angry as he watched the distorted clock face curl and blacken into ash.

"I'm dismantling who I was, moving it brick by brick," Hannibal said. "And when we've gone from this life, I will always have it."

"Your 'memory palace?'" Will said.

"If I'm ever apprehended, I will live there," Hannibal replied.

Will thought of that: Hannibal behind bars, retreating behind his eyes to walk the corridors of his old home, to run his fingers along the spines of his books in his old office. Never again to stroll through the fields with Will or add a dash of sherry to a pan in the kitchen. Why did Will feel this curl of sorrow in his chest? Abigail would never do those things again either, and that was Hannibal's fault.

"Could you be happy there?" Will asked anyway.

Hannibal's lips pursed slightly. "All the palace chambers are not light, bright, and airy," he said. "In the vaults of our hearts and brains, danger waits. There are holes in the floor of the mind."

Will knew that well. He thought he knew what Hannibal's were, too. Hannibal had mentioned a sister; an aunt; an uncle. They were all gone. Hannibal was alone in the world. Will wondered if Hannibal had ever told anyone these things before.

He looked up. Hannibal was standing very close. This was not the first time Will had felt his breath catch in his throat like this. He was reminded suddenly of the time he'd come to sit next to Hannibal by the harpsichord. But now instead of longing, Hannibal looked at Will with something more murky and troubled in his gaze.

This time, Hannibal was the one to look away. "Come," he said. "It's time for supper."

They drove to Hannibal's house. Dinner was simple, by Hannibal's standards: roast rack of lamb, asparagus spears, potato puree. Will helped, as he was accustomed to by now. He allowed himself to think of this as some hazy, indistinct future: chopping herbs and mincing garlic according to Hannibal's instructions; Hannibal Frenching the lamb and trimming the asparagus; the potatoes simmering. Working together in companionable silence. Could it be like this forever? Did he want it to?

The sound of something shattering broke Will out of his reverie. Hannibal had dropped a teacup. He stood there, looking at it, the cupboard still open behind his shoulder. Will looked at it too. The kitchen smelled of roasting meat and herbs. Will knew that it really was lamb; he'd been there when Hannibal bought it, and he'd seen the package come out of the refrigerator with the butcher's barcode sticker on it.

Will went to Hannibal, knelt, and gathered the teacup together in his hands. A moment later, he handed it back to Hannibal, whole. Hannibal didn't take it from him. He took another cup from the shelf, without looking, and dropped it on the floor. Will gathered that one up too, and the one after that, and the one after that. He lined the cups up on the counter and waited for Hannibal to dash them all to the floor with the sweep of an arm. Hannibal looked at Will with an expression like loss. Will swallowed.

"This Gift of yours, to gather the cup together again," Hannibal said, softly. "Has it ever occurred to you not to use it? If you dropped a glass, would you let it lie there broken without repairing it?"

"No," Will said. "That seems like a waste."

Hannibal took the cups and put them back on the shelf, handling each one as if it were a holy relic.

The thermometer beeped. Will turned off the oven and opened the door; behind him, Hannibal had his oven mitts on, to take the roasting pan out. He plated their meal while Will washed and dried the knives and slid them back into the knife block. He followed Hannibal into the dining room, where Hannibal was pouring the wine.

"We could disappear now," Hannibal said, startling Will. He didn't look at Will as he spoke. "Tonight. Feed your dogs. Leave a note for Alana, never see her or Jack Crawford again. Almost polite." He corked the decanter and set it back on the table. Only then did he look at Will.

"Then this," Will's gaze fell to the lamb, the green spears, the whorl of potato. "This would be our last supper."

"I am serving lamb," Hannibal said, with something like a faint smile. Will did not smile back; he was realizing that he liked Hannibal's smiles.

"Is it a sacrifice?" Will wondered. "The Lamb of God, taking away the sins of the world?"

Hannibal sat. He shook out his napkin and placed it in his lap. "I freely claim my sin. I don't need a sacrifice. Do you?"

Will sat, because Hannibal was sitting. He felt a lump in his throat, forcing moisture into the corners of his eyes. "Maybe I do."

"Maybe there has already been one," Hannibal said, gently. "Perhaps a ram waits in the thicket."

The memory of Abigail rose, unbidden. She had sat at this table with them before. Will could almost hear her now, snorting and calling them pretentious. He wondered what she would have made of the teacups earlier, in the kitchen.

Will picked up his knife and fork and looked up at Hannibal, who studied him from across the table with no trace of smile on his face. "Where would we go?"

"Say that we'll go," Hannibal said, "and I'll take you there."

***

They left their empty wine glasses and their dishes on the table, knives and forks placed parallel to each other to indicate that the diners were finished. Jack would find them later, after he grew tired of waiting for Will's call. He would bring Price and Zeller, and they wouldn't find anything unusual. The lamb was lamb, the asparagus was asparagus, the potatoes were potato, the wine was not drugged (but it was very expensive wine).

Hannibal helped Will make the dogs' food, peeling the hardboiled eggs while Will stirred the ground beef. While the dogs ate, he stood in the living room and looked around: the patched spot on the wall where he'd once knocked a hole in the chimney; his fishing paraphernalia; his bookshelf. The FBI would come here, too. They would see that Will had fed his dogs, that he'd left the door open and a bucket of water for them on the porch. Maybe they would conclude that he was still alive, that he had left willingly.

Will met Hannibal's gaze. Will shook his head, just slightly; there was nothing he wanted to take with him.

They drove for a long time, not in Will's car nor Hannibal's Bentley but a third car that Will hadn't known existed, a nondescript dark blue SUV that Will assumed had been purchased with cash and was not registered to Hannibal Lecter. The radio station flickered in and out of existence as they crossed county and state lines. Will didn't know what to say; Hannibal did not offer conversation either. They stopped once, for gas. Will got out just to stretch his legs. His breath frosted in small white clouds. The world had a muffled, muted quality to it. Will wondered if he was going to wake up, and what would happen if he didn't.

It did not occur to Will until they were driving down a long, long driveway that Hannibal might kill him after all. He couldn't find it in himself to be afraid at the prospect; mostly he was tired. At least if Hannibal killed him, Will wouldn't have to stand suspended on the knife's edge of decision all the time.

He almost didn't realize that the car had stopped, that the engine was off. Hannibal sat beside him in the darkened vehicle. Before them was a strange, low house with a sweeping roof. There were lights on inside, and no curtains on the floor-to-ceiling windows. Just inside Will could make out a television, showing what looked like a cartoon. Was there someone in there?

"We're here," Hannibal said.

"Where?" Will asked.

Hannibal got out of the car. After a moment, Will did too. He followed Hannibal to the door. Hannibal knocked, and Will saw someone stir from one of the chairs. Someone with long, dark hair. His breath caught; the door opened; Abigail stared out at them, her blue eyes wide.

"Oh my God," Will gasped. He had to put one hand against the doorframe; his other hand went over his mouth. "Oh my God."

"You came!" Abigail cried; she was smiling.

Will squeezed his eyes shut. He felt Hannibal's warm, strong hand come to his shoulder, and he turned without thinking and pressed his mouth to Hannibal's. He felt Hannibal suck in a startled breath, and behind him Abigail made some kind of noise, maybe amused or maybe surprised. Hannibal's hands came up to cradle Will's face. Will broke the kiss then, but he didn't open his eyes; he swayed forward, and his forehead came to rest against Hannibal's forehead.

"What the fuck," Will said.

"The teacup did come together." Hannibal's voice was ragged. "A place has been made once more in the world for Abigail. A place was made for all of us. Together."

Will started laughing before Hannibal finished his little speech. He opened his eyes. He could see, even in the nearly nonexistent lighting, that Hannibal's eyes were bright. "You bastard," he said, and he kissed Hannibal again.

"Come inside," said Abigail.

***

It was raining when Will woke up. Hannibal was still asleep next to him. Will didn't want to admit it, even to himself, but it was a little enchanting; he never thought he'd be able to see Hannibal asleep. But asleep he was, his breathing deep and regular, his features relaxed. Will wanted to watch him a little more, but he needed to piss, so he got out of bed.

Once he'd relieved himself, part of him wanted to go back to bed--it was cold!--but a much larger part of him was hungry. He pulled on his pants and shirt and shuffled out into the living area in his bare feet. He found Abigail in the living room, staring out the window, also dressed in pajamas. She held a mug of something Will hoped was coffee.

"Look," Abigail said, after looking over her shoulder to see who it was.

Will came to stand next to her, and together they stared out at a riotous green world. Spring grass pushed up through the dark earth; all the trees were crowned with a profusion of leaves; Will thought he could see flowers unfurling their petals to reveal pops of red, ochre, violet, and ivory. It almost hurt his eyes.

"What do you think happened?" Abigail asked.

Where else had they had these interminable winters? France (where Hannibal had gone to boarding school); Italy (where Hannibal had become a man). What had happened before that? (Not all the rooms in Hannibal's mind were light and bright; there were floors in the hole of the mind. Hannibal was alone in the world. At some point, he had lost control, and then there had been nothing but the long, dark winter of the heart.)

"I don't know," Will said at last. "Whatever's happening, it's just beginning."

END.