"If music be the food of love, play on."
- William Shakespeare
It was entirely his own fault of course, for letting it get so bad. Will stared at the little music shop called Chordophone like the building was full of corpses instead of musical instruments. It had come highly recommended by Beverly, an agent who worked for Jack Crawford. Sometimes the tenacious man would send her in his stead to see if Will would come work for him. Will never took Jack up on his offer, but he did enjoy speaking with Beverly when she turned up in his classroom with new case file in hand. Apparently she still played the violin, and got her strings from here.
It was no one’s fault but his own for letting his piano get so out of tune, the poor instrument damn near unplayable now. Instead of being an adult and keeping up on its maintenance, Will now had to go explain to some professional who probably lived and breathed instruments his embarrassing situation, someone who would give him a Look. It would be an expression with a capital letter because Will would feel every increment of sadness, anger, and resentment directed toward him for the piano’s mistreatment.
Greed and self-righteousness would probably round out those feelings. Will had a bad feeling that he was going to be charged out the ass for this. If the owner of the shop had a true love for music, he might feel the need to teach Will a life lesson whether it be a lecture on proper care and maintenance, or an exuberant bill for the piano’s pain and suffering.
If he had the time, Will knew he could teach himself to do it, but convenience was a factor here. He could dick around and learn a new skill set at his own pace, take a few months getting to know the ins and outs of his piano like he did boat motors, or he could get a professional to come out and do it for him, and be playing his piano again sooner rather than later. Music was a form of stress relief, one that Will was good at, playing only for himself, and one he would like to get back to enjoying. One could only make so many fishing lures before that became dull.
While in the process of scolding himself into action, Will observed a rather nice car parallel park ahead of his own in the street, the black Bentley’s owner just as polished and expensive looking as his car. Mr. Cheekbones seemed to be heading into the string shop as well, so Will decided to sneak in with him. It was good plan in Will’s mind, the FBI teacher far more casually dressed than the man ahead of him. When presented with two clients, the owner of the shop would be more interested in the guy who looked like he was going to purchase a baby grand piano just for the hell of it as opposed to the guy in shabby clothes covered from head to toe in dog hair. Will envisioned being able to do a flyby order for strings and a rush appointment for his piano without having to go into too much detail. He would be in and out with very little small talk, and all thanks to Mr. PlaidPants McRichGuy.
While Will had meant ‘sneak in’ as a metaphor, Mr. Silver Fox took it to heart in the more literal sense, the well dressed man silencing the shop’s bell with a little too much practiced ease for a some rich white guy. With a decade of police training under his belt, Will was able to enter just as quietly, if not more so, from knowing where the bell was. Mr. Broad Shoulders was too intrigued by the violin music being played to notice him keeping to the entranceway. The melody in Will’s humble opinion was melodramatic to the point of being incredibly dull. Someone was trying to make a haunting statement about his inner state of being, but lacked that spark, that little bit of soul, to make something good turn into something great. Having extreme amounts of empathy was a real bitch sometimes, especially when it came to music. It was one of the reasons Will was not a fan of American Idol or the Voice. He could always tell who wasn’t going to make it.
Something was off about Mr. Legs That Went On Forever though. It wasn’t anything obvious, and probably would have been missed if Will were other people. The way the guy moved through the shop though, with his head tilted slightly to the side listening to the music, was disconcerting, like a jungle cat padding through new territory. He kept touching things, making little items align themselves to angles and corners, or plucking strings to hear them softly sing, marking things with his fingertips. It was enough to make Will keep very still in the shadow of the doorway. He made his mind quiet as not to be noticed, broadcasting ’I’m not here’ to the universe at large so he could watch the guy in the plaid suit a couple minutes longer.
When Will was satisfied, he reached his hand up to flick the bell, making the music stop, and Mr. Has A Nice Ass Too look up and over at him, the man most definitely a killer of some sort. To his credit, Mr. Most Definitely A Murderer wasn’t the jumpy sort, his version of surprise a slow blink and some slight tightening around the mouth. Will made himself nod back and look non-threatening as possible. He wasn’t looking for a fight or to make an enemy. He was just here for some damn piano strings.
The owner of the shop appeared, looking austere and composed as his performance had sounded. “You’re Franklyn’s therapist, Dr. Lecter. Nice to see you again.” he greeted, helpfully supplying Will with Mr. I Totally Kill People For Fun’s name. Will was amused to notice that the owner had yet to greet him or even bother to acknowledge his presence, all his focus on this Dr. Lecter.
The good doctor was a tactical thinker, Will observed, Dr. Lecter moving to keep the shop’s owner and himself in full view at all times. “Is it Tobias? Tobias Budge?” Dr. Lecter was feigning ignorance, though Will was unsure if the feint in etiquette was to insult the other man or to fill Will in on his name as well.
“Yes.” Tobias answered, the man taking it as an insult.
“Your strings are all gut.” Dr. Lecter pointed out. There was something going on here, and Will didn’t like. He didn’t like it one bit, but he was also the closest one to the door and to his knowledge, the only one armed with a gun so he liked his odds at the moment. Tobias and Dr. Lecter didn’t look like they were into firearms. Given the one man’s title, Will was willing to bet Dr. Lecter was into medical equipment and blades. Shit on a shingle, he hated killers from medical professions. They tended to be sadistic bastards and hard as hell to catch, having a pension for disinfectant.
“I carry steel and polymer strings, if you prefer.” Tobias informed the good doctor with only the slightest curling of lips to show his distain about such inferior strings.
“I prefer gut.” Dr. Lecter reassured him, soothing down raised hackles.
“Of course, you do.” Will muttered, making the other two men glance over at him. He refrained from waving at them. No need to entice the other predators in the room. He kind of wanted to see how this played out.
“Harps found in the tombs of Thebes strung with gut still made music after 2000 years.” Dr. Lecter informed him with the slightest of smiles, like they were sharing a private joke. Will wasn’t laughing. He was too busy trying to figure out if was his damn cologne or just his shit luck that kept attracting psychopaths to him like stoners to a 7-11.
“I make my own string. Tell anyone who asks, it’s imported from Italy.” Tobias told them, bragging about and it was bragging. He was so pleased with himself, pride practically oozed off of him.
“What is with Baltimore and all the fucked up kind of crazies?” Will mused to himself. Tobias was so obviously the newest serial killer Jack had come begging his help for. Some poor guy got turned into a cello for being a crappy trombonist, making the front page of TattleCrime cause Lounds either was a cockroach or security at crime scenes were just that dumb to keep letting her slip under the yellow tape.
Taking off his glasses, they were just for show anyway, Will decided it was time to walk around the shop a bit to confirm whether or not this was Tobias’s kill house. Will was pretty sure it was safe to assume that there was out of the way door somewhere in this place that down to a basement, and in that basement, there would be parts of other people sitting in jars, just waiting to be treated and converted into strings.
“I’m terribly sorry, but can I help you with something?” Tobias finally asked not meaning the apology at all, making Will bite back a grin to try and keep a straight face. He just wanted Will gone so that he and Dr. Lecter could have their private moment together. The cello maker was vying for the doctor’s attention. It made Will wonder the pedigree of killer the other man was to have another of his kind want to be his friend or at the very least, a confidante. On his part, Dr. Lecter looked offended by the other man’s lack of tact.
“No, no. Just browsing and haven’t made up my mind quite yet, if you want to take care of him before me.” Will faked some pleasantry as he adjusted a display cello much to Tobias’s obvious displeasure. The real point of which was to loosen the balance rod which Will promptly put through Tobias’s throat as soon as the man turned his back to him. Pulled it out made Tobias stumble about to stare at him with bulging eyes full of shock and utter disbelief. Drawing his gun, Will calmly shot Tobias in the throat before he could really make a mess of things.
“I’m sure you have a spare handkerchief or some wipes. Could I have them please?” Will asked Dr. Lecter who produced a travel sized packet of bleach wipes. Nodding his thanks, Will carefully wiped down the balancing rod clean of Tobias’s blood and his fingerprints. Putting the rod in Tobias’s hands so his were the only fingerprints on it, Will kicked it were it should have landed if Tobias had been holding it when he was shot. Satisfied with the setup, Will called Jack to inform him that he had caught his serial killer of the week, and then alerted the proper authorities, pocketing the used wipes. The bullet wound and Tobias’s blown out neck would hide all the previous damage to it, and the rod would provide Will with a valid reason for ‘accidentally’ using deadly force. It wouldn’t be his fault he couldn’t shoot for shit, being just a teacher.
“Thank you.” Will said, returning the packet to its owner. “So you and I were having a pleasant conversation about our professions. Mr. Budge overheard us talking, heard the word FBI, and unfortunately overreacted, coming after you with the balance rod. I was forced to fire my weapon in self defense and for your protection. We still have about ten minutes to work out the details before the cops get here. Sound good to you?” Will informed the remaining serial killer in the room.
“And why would I tell anyone that?” Dr. Lecter asked, though it wasn’t to argue with Will. No, this monkey bucket of quirky weird was curious as all hell about his own kind of crazy, Dr. Lecter looking at him like Will was the next best thing since sliced bread. Trying not to feel too flattered by all the attention, Will smiled back, chiding himself for wanting to hit on a fellow serial killer with a corpse in the room. It wasn’t like anyone wrote about the do’s and don’t of dating in situations like this. Could he ask for the guy’s number or should they go out for coffee after giving their statements? Did he call sooner rather than later or should he wait three days and risk the good doctor coming after him for making him wait?
“Because I’m willing to bet my farm that Mr. Budge here has a basement full of other people’s body parts, and no one is going to give a flying fuck that he’s dead. That and I’m pretty sure that you were the guy he was serenading with that trombonist, but I’m willing to leave that out when I talk to the FBI agent in charge of this case. It could put the wrong kind of focus on you, and I don’t think you want that to happen.” Will smirked, enjoying the very complicated dance of micro expressions that worked themselves across Dr. Lecter’s face.
“I have nothing to hide.” Dr. Lecter said coolly, clearly not amused by Will’s statement. Grimacing, Will reminded himself to work on his flirting or to not bother with it at all.
“Oh, I think you have everything to hide.” Will licked his lips, daring to come closer to the killer in hiding who watched him with those beautifully complex burgundy eyes of his. “I’m more the willing to draw attention away from you though…”
“In exchange for what, Mr…?” Dr. Lecter said in a thoughtful manner that had him licking that kissable bottom lip of his. Will found himself mimicking the flick and press of his tongue over teeth.
“Will. Will Graham. I teach trainees at the FBI how to profile very dangerous men, violent killers, and psychopaths.” Will said softly, coming close enough to could feel the other’s body heat and breath coming off of his person.
“And what am I to you besides a witness and potentially an accomplice in your deception?” Dr. Lecter asked. Will could tell that he was enjoying this game of theirs. He hoped that they could keep it going long enough to know each other better, intimately so. It had been a while since anyone had peeked his interest or shared any of his more rarified hobbies. He got the feeing that Dr. Lecter had experienced the same problem.
“Why, Dr. Lecter, I think you’re the lion in the room hiding in plain sight, tucked away in a corner no one is looking at until it‘s too late. You’re probably the most dangerous man I have ever met before in person.” Will murmured. He held still as a monster leaned in to delicately scent him. Will tried not to feel too disappointed that it wasn’t a kiss as thin lips passed so near his own.
“What did you come here for?” Dr. Lecter said, turning away to look at the displays of instruments while he still could. “I would like for us to be on the same page before doors are kicked in.”
“I came in to speak with the dearly departed Mr. Budge about restringing my piano.” Will sighed, even as he followed after Dr. Lecter who was the type to play hard-to-get. The mention of the instrument seemed to light a fire deep within maroon eyes though, making them glow with pinpoints of scarlet.
“Do you play?” Dr. Lecter asked, trying not to look too eager and failing at it.
“Yes, I do. Well enough, usually only for my own enjoyment. Do you…play?” Will said, the pause intentional and heavy with double and triple entendres.
“I have mastered several instruments, though I prefer the Theremin and the harpsichord.” Dr. Lecter preened. He was peacocking for Will, and they both knew it.
“Both need a delicate touch.” Will smiled, letting his voice drop low and sweet.
“I was once a surgeon before I became a psychiatrist.” Dr. Lecter told him, and that statement alone told volumes about this killer to Will, who could have been the FBI‘s top profiler if his moral compass was more rigid. As it was, Will’s teaching position gave him far more time to pursue killers his own way. Justice still prevailed, at least in Will’s mind it did. It wasn’t his fault that some people just deserved to die horribly and in creative ways. Doing bad things to bad people felt good. It even felt righteous and just at times.
“Of course you were, Mr. Chesapeake Ripper.” Will murmured, watching the play and dance of bloody irises as Dr. Lecter’s eye became blown, the little narcissist he was loving the attention to his detail.
“Would you mind playing for me sometime soon?” Dr. Lecter asked a little breathlessly. The sound of sirens off in the distance told the pair that this conversation needed to be wrapped up quickly, the topic unsuitable for virgin ears.
“I might be convinced to,” Will said, “With the proper motivation, of course.” He took his chance while Hannibal considered his offer. Will had always heard fortune favored the bold as he pressed a quick kiss to the corner of the older man’s mouth. He held very still as the affection was returned a second later, the delicate press of thin lips against his fuller own as cool and light as rippling silk.
“Then I think you should start calling me Hannibal.”