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30 Nights

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001.    You were never mine to begin with.   

William Graham has a wife who does not love him and a son who is not his own. His wife doesn’t want to hear about the stress that comes with working for the FBI and the boy doesn’t know how to act towards the man who came into his life after the death of his father.

This does not stop Hannibal Lecter from taking Will into his bed. Hannibal can see that the younger man is not in love with his wife—he is merely obsessed with the idea of having a family waiting at home for him. He ignores the fact that Molly is in love with Will’s fame, not Will himself, and ignores how Willy calls him by his first name and treats him like a stranger instead of a step-father.

Will is not Hannibal’s, although the doctor longs to possess the Special Investigator, body, mind and soul. His time with Will is limited to a series of stolen moments, with William always rushing off to return to his family, or to the FBI’s office, or to the latest crime scene.

Hannibal dreams of tying Will to his bed, keeping the room dark and Will dependent upon him for everything. He dreams of marking Will’s flesh, be it with his teeth or fingernails or a knife, of placing a mark of ownership upon his beloved boy. As he listens to the rambling of idiots Hannibal sketches out designs for a ring for Will and imagines destroying the one Will wears which shows his link to Molly.

Hannibal Lecter wants to take, to entangle himself and Will, to force the two of them together so that there isn’t an inch of William’s body, mind or soul which does not belong to Hannibal. The psychiatrist wants to make it so that his beloved boy can’t even breathe without knowing that his is owned by the older man.

Will has so much potential, but the boy is not his, so Hannibal can’t shape him into the work of art that the Special Investigator could become. He doesn’t have enough time to sink into Will’s mind, to remove the boy’s limits, to make those changes which would not only benefit Hannibal but Will as well.

So Will remains “balanced”. He stays just a step away from seeing just what Hannibal is and a step away from becoming what Hannibal is. Hannibal knows that one day William will fall off that perch, but he does not know which side his beloved boy will land on. Will could end up playing the role of the good cop, taking Hannibal in, making him pay for his crimes… or perhaps Hannibal will get to see Will with blood on his lips and a smile on his face as they prey together upon the free range rude.

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002.    I’m willing to sacrifice anything just for you.   

William Graham is transferring laundry from washer to dryer when he realizes that Hannibal Lecter is the Chesapeake Ripper. The FBI’s Special Investigator is not truly surprised by this revelation… rather he is surprised that he doesn’t feel shocked, or at least disgusted with the psychiatrist’s actions. Will tries, but is unable to force himself to feel the same revulsion and hate for Hannibal that he feels for Garrett Hobbs. So instead of doing the “right” thing, instead of calling his superiors, instead of turning Hannibal Lecter into the authorities, Will goes to his lover’s town house.

Molly and Willy are out of town, visiting Molly’s sister in Vermont. They aren’t due back until tomorrow at the earliest and because of this Will has ended up spending ever moment possible at Hannibal’s town house, so the older man isn’t surprised to find Will at his door. When the door to Hannibal’s town house is closed and locked behind him William doesn’t feel scared—like a normal person would if they found themselves alone with a serial killer, alone with a man who Will is increasingly sure is a cannibal.

Hannibal is hosting a dinner for the Baltimore Symphony Board tomorrow, so Will finds himself sitting in the psychiatrist’s kitchen, a cup of coffee in his hands as Lecter makes some preparations for the dinner. Whenever possible the older man’s gaze remains fixed upon Will, who has to resist the urge to shiver—it feels like Hannibal can see right through him, pat flesh and bone and into his mind. Will wishes he could look into Hannibal’s mind—he wants to see the older man’s brain working, wants to get a glimpse into the genius he knows the doctor possesses… perhaps that would let him know how to tell Hannibal that he knows.

Will thinks of Molly and Will, he thinks of his superiors at the FBI… and he thinks of the victims of the Chesapeake Ripper, both confirmed and unconfirmed. He thinks of the divorce lawyer he made an appointment with two days ago—before he knew about Hannibal. His schedule and the lawyer’s schedule had been at odds—his appointment was still three days away. Hannibal sits down at the kitchen table across from Will, a glass of iced tea in his hands.

“Something on your mind Will?”

I know. Will wants to say. I know what you’ve done—what you are… and the only thing that scares me is that I don’t care. He wants to confess everything to Hannibal, wants to kneel down and offer himself to Hannibal—I’ll leave the Bureau. I’m already leaving Molly—but when he opens his mouth no such confession emerges.

“I think I’m close to something.” Will’s voice cracks and he is suddenly aware of how tired he is, although there is no reason for this fatigue—he’s been all but living with Hannibal for the past three days. “With the Ripper—I’m just…”

Will rubs at his head, confused by the sudden headache that is developing. His body is suddenly tight with stress, his bones ache. Then Hannibal leans forward and places a hand on Will’s shoulder, an action which instantly drains the stress from his body. Will sags and Hannibal removes the cup of coffee from his hands—Will hasn’t even taken two sips. Hannibal replaces the coffee with his own glass of tea.

“Kava chai tea.” Hannibal explains as he crosses the kitchen to pour out Will’s coffee. The Special Investigator takes a hesitant sip of the tea and looks up at Hannibal. “It should help you relax Will.”

“Thanks.” Will sighs, quickly finishing off the rest of the tea before he heads over to the kitchen sink, where Hannibal is washing dishes at a slow pace. Without speaking Will places himself at Hannibal’s side, drying the dishes the Psychiatrist passes to him.

Once the dishes are washed and put away Will finds himself sort of drifting, practically asleep on his feet. Hannibal silently leads him up to the second floor of the town house… Will is only aware that he’s fallen asleep when he wakes up curled up against Hannibal the next morning. Will sighs softly and keeps his eyes closed, not wanting to face the real world… but then his pager goes off, summoning him to the FBI’s field office. Will sighs as he hauls himself upright and moves to get his clothes, which Hannibal has folded on a nearby chair.

“Can I see you tonight?” Will asks, looking back over his shoulder at Hannibal, who has sat up in bed and is just watching Will get dressed.

“The Symphony Board dinner should be over by nine… we can take another look at the case file if you’d like.” Hannibal offers.

“I’ll see you then.” Will smiles, leaning over for a brief kiss which—before it can progress any further—is cut off by Will’s beeper going off again.

“Take care Will.”

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003.    Find me in the Dark.   

Words cannot describe how much better the symphony sounds now that Benjamin Raspail is no longer inflicting his playing upon the world—and the Board did seem to enjoy their dinner. Hannibal is glad that he had the foresight to set aside a plate for his beloved boy—Will has been under quite a lot of pressure recently, although Hannibal has tried to give Will a sort of break while Molly was out of town. It was hardly Hannibal’s fault that the FBI liked to keep the Special Investigator running in circles, even when there are no crime scenes for him to look at or autopsy reports to decipher. A good mean will do the younger man good, and Hannibal always finds it a pleasure to cook for Will, no matter how simple the recipe.

By the time that the doorbell rings Hannibal has cleaned away all traces of the Symphony Board’s dinner. Hannibal intends to feed Will before they discuss the “Chesapeake Ripper”, but when the door closes behind the younger man it is clear that William has had a breakthrough. Although the Special Investigator gracefully submits to a demanding kiss from Hannibal which he clearly enjoys, his eyes are distant and it is clear that he is not entirely focused on the real world.

So instead of leading Will into the kitchen Hannibal shows Will into his study and watches as Will sinks down into the chair in front of the desk, sighing like he’s just run several miles. Until Will works out the latest problem he has found with their profile of the Ripper he won’t be able to relax. The change in plans does not worry Hannibal—he loves to see his beautiful boy’s mind at work, to watch Will’s face as the FBI’s Special Investigator makes the connections that none of their agents would even know to look for.

But all too soon the joy that Hannibal usually receives from watching the younger man think vanishes—William is too close, he has put too many of the puzzle pieces together. A single glance at anything in Hannibal’s study, in Hannibal’s house, a single memory of a description of a meal and Will will have a name—his name. It is only once he is in the hall, having excused himself to get Will something to eat and drink, that Hannibal allows his sadness to show. He is going to lose Will—he must lose his beloved boy. All he can do is to give Will the least painful death possible with such short notice… if Hannibal had more time to plan then he could have had drugs on hand, to toss into Will’s food and drink. He could have given his beloved a final meal and taken him to bed before killing Will painlessly as the younger man slept… but now there is no time.

When Hannibal silently steps back into the study he sees that Will has opened up The Larousse Gastronomique and is running his fingers over one entry, which Hannibal had marked with a thin red ribbon. Will seems to sense Hannibal’s presence behind him and he turns to face the older man—who uses the movement to stab his knife into Will’s side.

The second that the knife slips into Will’s side Hannibal presses his lips against his beloved boy, swallowing the cry that slips out when the Special Investigator realizes that he has been stabbed. When Hannibal pulls back all that Will can do is weakly gasp for air as Hannibal tosses his gun away before the blond man can reach for it.

“Shhh, don’t move.” Hannibal whispers into Will’s ear. “I don’t want you to feel any pain. In a moment you’ll begin to feel light headed, then drowsy—like slipping into a warm bath.

The only response that Will can give is a broken gasp. As Hannibal gently and slowly lowers Will to the ground the Special Investigator’s hand clutches weakly at Hannibal’s shoulder.

“I regret it came to this Will.” Hannibal whispers as he removes the knife from Will’s side, drawing a choked scream from the younger man. “Beautiful boy—I do admire your courage. I think I’ll eat your heart.”

Hannibal doesn’t realize that Will has moved until he is staggering backwards, a handful of arrows shoved into his side. Hannibal drops his knife as he feels his desk behind him and one hand moves to touch the arrows. He looks down at his beloved, who seems just as surprised as Hannibal is by the turn of events. Hannibal staggers forward and Will—who doesn’t seem to be aware of his actions—pulls his backup gun from his ankle holster.

Oh my beautiful courageous boy…Hannibal thinks as he falls backwards on to his desk and Will’s gun falls to the ground. How fitting that you are the one who caught me. He can hear his beloved’s tortured breathing and soft broken cries of pain. Hannibal wishes that he could somehow comfort his boy—although Will would most likely no longer accept such comfort.

Hannibal Lecter slips into unconscious with his beloved’s name on his lips, wondering if he will find William Graham in the darkness that rises up to claim him.

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004.    Darkness In My Heart

The moment that Will steps into Hannibal’s town house he finds himself swallowed up by the case—he’s know that Hannibal Lecter is the Chesapeake River for two days, but it is only now that the nuts and bolts of how he knows start to fall into place. All William Graham wants to do is tell Hannibal that he knows, to tell Hannibal about the divorce lawyer and how he spent most of today thinking about walking around some European town with Hannibal at his side, their hands entwined.

But when Will opens his mouth, to tell Hannibal, to confess, all that comes out is the case—his story of Willy’s grandfather carving up the turkey at Thanksgiving, the revelation that the Ripper is taking ingredients from his victims, not trophies. Will tells Hannibal everything except for what he wants to tell him, everything except for what he needs to tell him. Exactly how do you tell the man you love that you know he’s a cannibal, that you don’t want the Bureau to find him—to cage him—to stop him. Will actually finds himself biting back a laugh—he’d always wondered what going made feels like… well now he knows.

Will is flipping through one of Hannibal’s books, The Larousse Gastronomique, when he has the sudden feeling that something is behind him. Confused, Will turns—only to end up with a knife buried in his side and Hannibal’s lips claiming his—swallowing a cry which is more shock then pain.

It hurts—but not as much as Will would have expected. The worse part is that he can’t breath—every time Will tries he just ends up gasping. As he struggles to get enough air, Hannibal pulls his gun out of it’s holster and tosses it off to the side.

“Shh, don’t move.” Hannibal whispers as Will finds his hand weakly griping at the older man’s shoulder. “I don’t want you to feel any pain… in a moment you’ll begin to feel light headed, then drowsy. Like slipping into a warm bath.”

Will blinks slowly, already feeling light headed. He can’t speak, when he tries the knife in his side cuts him off, but even if he could, Will wouldn’t be screaming for someone to help him, for someone to save him. I’ve gone insane. Will thinks as Hannibal lowers him to the ground. I’m being murdered and… and I don’t want anyone to find out. I don’t want anyone to catch him.

“I regret that it came to this Will…” Hannibal whispers as Will struggles to keep his eyes open. “Beautiful boy—I do admire your courage. I think I’ll eat your heart.”

And suddenly Will feels like someone else is controlling his body. He isn’t even aware that he’s moved until he sees Hannibal staggering backwards, with several arrows sticking out of his side. It takes Will a second to realize that he was the one to put them there… and by the time he’s realized that, Will has pulled the pistol out of his ankle holster and has fired at Hannibal.

The doctor stumbles back again, falling on to his desk as blood stains hi white dress shirt… the gun falls from Will’s hand as he stares at Hannibal’s unconscious form. Someone will report the gunshots. Will thinks as his eyes start to close. Maybe one of us will live… I wonder which one it will be—me or Hannibal. Will shivers as he stops fighting to keep his eyes open and sinks into darkness… Hannibal was right. It is like slipping into a warm bath.

When William Graham finally emerges from the silence he finds himself lying in a hospital bed, with a cop standing at the door to his room, what seems like a hundred tubes running in and out of his body and a heart monitor, which sounds strangely mournful to Will’s ears… although that could just be the painkillers talking.

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005.    Release My Darkness; Bring Me Warmth

Hannibal Lecter’s cell is at the last in a long row of cells that make up the maximum-security section of the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. The other cells are separated from the hallway by thick metal bars which are rusted and look much older than they actually are, due to the damp of the basement that the maximum-security section was built in. However in Hannibal’s cell the bars have been replaced with a wall of thick plexiglass.

On the shelves of Lecter’s cell—shelves which have been carefully constructed so that Hannibal cannot remove any part of them for use as a weapon or a lock pick—there are dozens of books, covering a broad range of topics. There are two stacks of book on Hannibal’s desk, although these are from the mental asylum’s library. Next to these books are several letters—some are from respectable establishments such as The Journal Of Clinical Psychiatry, while a great many more are from the sort of men and women who are attracted to serial killers—Hannibal’s “groupies”, as several of the asylum’s guards call them.

The walls of Hannibal’s cell are covered in artwork—most of the pieces are done with felt tipped pens, although a few are done in charcoal. Directly across from Lecter’s bed is the largest of these sketches—the large piece of butcher paper depicts the Duomo in Florence as seen from the Belvedere. Hannibal had drawn the piece from memory very soon after he arrived at the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Sometimes at night, when Hannibal does not wish to sleep, he simply sits and stares at the sketch in the dim light of the cell. It is never truly dark in the maximum-security section—the guards need to be able to see the inmates and there are times when even the dim light has a peculiar effect on some of the other inmates.

Tonight the row of cells is almost silent—there are only a few soft murmurs from the other cells and the sound of water moving through ancient pipes. Hannibal Lecter is lying perfectly still in the exact middle of his small bed. It is easy for the man to tune out the physical world and make it fade away as he steps into his memory palace and turns his thoughts towards Will Graham.

It is strange—but recently Hannibal has found that he cannot blame Will for his imprisonment. The doctor had always known that imprisonment was a possible consequence of his actions, but Hannibal had always thought that he would be killed for his crimes, as opposed to being committed to a mental institution. In a way his confinement is more insulting, since it the court had declared him insane. Hannibal had always known what society considered right and what it considered wrong, even though he hadn’t cared.

Hannibal understands that Will had merely done what he felt he had to. When faced with a knife in his gut Will had fought back. When he woke in a hospital and was faced with the fact that his lover was the Chesapeake Ripper, Will had done as the Bureau wanted and testified on their behalf.

It is his memories of Will’s testimony that have brought Hannibal to his memory palace… the blond man sitting down in the witness box, pale and with dark circles under his eyes. His hands tremble slightly as he is sworn in, but Hannibal can tell that Will has not truly lost his courage. The moment that Hannibal is interested in had been close to the beginning of Will’s testimony, when the prosecutor had asked Will to talk about the night he “caught” Hannibal.

It was not until a week after Will’s testimony that Hannibal Lecter is struck by the feeling that the Special Investigator had lied to the court. The younger man had omitted the truth several times—he’d neglected to mention his relationship with Hannibal after all. But there is something more in Will’s testimony, although Hannibal cannot figure out what exactly Will had lied about. No matter how often Hannibal reviews his memories of Will’s testimony all he comes away with is the unsettlingly vague feeling that he has no reason to be cross with the young man… While Hannibal does not know all the facts, he had quickly come to the realization that Will Graham, the FBI’s former Special Investigator, the man whom history will remember as the captor of Hannibal the Cannibal Lecter, is still his beautiful boy.

So, in his dimly lit cell in the basement of the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, Hannibal Lecter shifts into a more natural sleeping position. In the guard room at the end of the hallway Barney Matthews takes one final look at Lecter before he heads home. His replacement briefly glances at Hannibal’s cell before focusing on the other inmates in the section. In his cell Hannibal moves deeper into his memory palace, away from the dim light of the real world maximum security section and away from the harsh light of the memory palace’s court room.

The room Hannibal turns to is lit entirely by candles. In this room—where memory and fantasy collide and mingle until they cannot be pulled apart, Will Graham lies on a bed covered in dark red silk. When Hannibal steps into the room his beautiful boy smiles and reaches out to grasp Lecter’s hand and pull him close. Hannibal allows himself to fall into the memory-dream, where he tumbles into bed with his beloved, eager to share the blond’s warmth.

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006.    Stolen Heart

When Will wakes up from the coma he had slipped into after Hannibal’s attempt to kill him Molly had already sold their house in Baltimore and bought a beach house on Sugarloaf Key. When Molly told him this Will had too many drugs in his system to argue—and once he was off the drugs and thinking clearly Will couldn’t think of any good reasons to argue. The only thing keeping Will in Baltimore was the man he’d been cheating on his wife with—the man who had killed him—the man responsible for the large scar on his waist, the one that made everyone who saw it flinch.

So Will put on his best fake smile and told Molly that he couldn’t wait to sit on the beach and get a tan. Molly and Willy boarded a plane the same day that Will was scheduled to testify at Hannibal’s trial. Will follows them down two days after Hannibal is declared insane and transferred to the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.

Once in Florida Will does his best to move on, to accept that the man he loved (the man he still loves) is insane. Will tries to forget that he was willing to throw everything away, to follow Hannibal for as long as the older man would have him. While Hannibal Lecter sits in his cell, Will Graham does his best to make the world believe that he is sane and something like a normal person.

Wills spends his days fixing boat motors and taking care of the stray dogs that he finds. The cute ones get adopted, while the ugly ones stick around to get bigger and uglier. Molly gets a job at a dress shop in town and she drives Willy to school even though Will could do it—he’s basically become a stay at home dad.

During his days Will drifts—he does his best to smile for Molly and Willy. He does his best not to cry when he thinks of Hannibal. He tries his best to pretend that he hates the scar Hannibal gave him as much as Molly does.

But at night—when Molly and Willy are asleep—Will lies awake, one hand resting on top of his scar and the other resting on top of his heart. When Will falls asleep, he dreams of the past, of stolen moments in Hannibal’s arms before his world fell apart. He dreams of candlelight, red silk and Hannibal’s bedroom. Will dreams of embraces, of wine and of food… and Will dreams that he was able to tell Hannibal of his discovery. In his dreams Hannibal has no reason to reach for his knife.

Then, a new serial killer emerges—Molly reacts by hiding the front page of the local newspaper, as if Will won’t notice that the front page is missing. Will pretends not to notice and once he and Molly see a report on TV he pretends that he doesn’t care, that he isn’t paying attention, that he doesn’t want to call Crawford and offer his services… even though Will knows that doing so would probably rip off the mask of sanity that he’s managed to acquire.

Two days before Crawford drives up to their house, while Willy is having a sleepover at a friend’s home, Molly drinks a bit too much wine and ends up screaming at Will. When morning comes Molly wakes up with a hangover and no memory of what she’d said—but the words echo in Will’s head for days… in fact Molly’s words only leave his mind the moment he lays eyes on Hannibal.

“He didn’t eat your heart… why would he have to!? He’d already stolen it from me!”

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007.    First Sunlight After The Darkness


Hannibal Lecter smiles ever so slightly as Will Graham makes his way down the hallway towards his cell. The Special Investigator walks with calm, measured steps. He does not hesitate or shy away from any of the cells, even when Multiple Miggs starts to jabber in some language of his own design. As Will gets closer to his cell Hannibal breathes in deeply—Will’s aftershave is cheap and ill-fitting. When Will finally comes to a stop in front of Hannibal’s cell the older man slowly opens his eyes and stares at the wall of his cell.

“That’s the same atrocious aftershave you wore in court.”

“I keep getting it for Christmas.” Will replies, the slightest hint of laughter in his voice as he sits down in the metal folding chair Barney had placed in front of Hannibal’s cell.

“Christmas, yes… did you get my card?”

“I got it.” Will pauses to slowly take a deep breath. “Thank you.”

Oh Will, you will never cease to amaze me. You actually opened the card, instead of just throwing it away. I doubt Molly liked that—did she make you burn it Will?

“So nice of the Bureau’s crime lab to forward that.” Hannibal sighs as Will shifts in his chair, causing the metal to creak softly. “They wouldn’t give me your home address.”

“Dr. Bloom sent me your article on surgical addiction in The Journal of Forensic Psychiatry.”

“And?” Hannibal prompts, enjoying hearing the younger man’s voice once again.

“Very interesting, even to a layman.”

“You say you’re a layman…” Hannibal slowly sits up and, after a second, turns to face the Special Investigator. “But it was you who caught me… wasn’t it Will?”

His beloved boy is tan and the sun has lightened his blond hair. His suit is neither cheap nor expensive and it fits him will. Will’s hands are rough, they aren’t a cops hand’s anymore. His aftershave is something that a child would select, with a little ship on the bottle. Willy’s choice obviously… a beach house then, with boats for Will to repair.

When Hannibal turns to face Will the younger man’s eyes drop to Hannibal’s side—easily finding the place where the arrows pierced Hannibal’s skin. Will’s gaze lingers there for a second, before it rises to meet Hannibal’s. As always Will’s eyes are breathtaking—fear and courage rolled together, with the same determination that Hannibal used to see when Will was thinking about the Chesapeake Ripper. Crawford may have all but dragged Will out of retirement, but Hannibal is confident that Will had been interested in the case before he was approached by the FBI.

“Do you know how you did it?” Hannibal asks, eager to hear Will’s side of the story, to know if Will had known of Hannibal’s crimes, or if he had simply reacted to Hannibal’s actions.

“I got lucky.” Will replies, not even bothering to hide the fact that he’s lying.

“I don’t think you believe that.” Hannibal sighs, folding his hands and placing them in his lap.

“It’s in the transcript, what does it matter now?” Three years of retirement have no diminished Will’s ability to act. Chilton—who is without a doubt listening in on their conversation—will most likely think that Will has simply failed to maintain control of his emotions… but Hannibal can see that Will is still in control of himself. He mentally applauds the fine balancing act that his beloved boy is so skillfully pulling off—showing as much truth as he can to Hannibal while hiding it from Chilton and Crawford.

“It doesn’t matter to me Will.” Hannibal replies, a soft smile which most likely looks vaguely sinister slipping on to his face.

“I need your advice Doctor Lecter.” Will looks down at the case file in his hands before glancing back towards Hannibal. Will hand that isn’t holding the case file rests on his knee, with no sign of the tremble that Hannibal had seen in court.

“Birmingham and Atlanta.” Hannibal sighs as he stands up and turns his back to Will. He looks at the sketches which have been taped to the back wall of his cell. “You want to know how he’s choosing them, don’t you?”

“I thought you would have some ideas.” Will replies. It’s almost like Hannibal can feel Will’s eyes on him. “I’m just asking you to tell me what they are.”

“Why should I?”

“There are things you don’t have. Research materials, maybe even computer access. ” Will hesitates for a second. “I’d speak to the chief of staff.”

“Ah, yes. Dr. Chilton...  Gruesome, isn’t it? He fumbles at your head like a freshman pulling at a panty girdle.” Slowly Hannibal turns to face Will... who, intriguingly enough, has almost no fear left in his eyes. “If you recall Will, our last collaboration ended rather messily.”

“You get to see the file on this case, and there’s another reason.” Will replies as he stands up.

“I’m all ears.”

“I thought you might enjoy the challenge.” Will’s gazes shifts as he glances down the hallway. His words are not directed towards Hannibal. Will is simply filling the space, giving a reason where, perhaps, no reason exists. Or at least no reason which society will accept as valid. “Find out if you’re smarter then the person I’m looking for.”

“Then by implication you think you’re smarter ten I am… since it was you who caught me.” Hannibal replies, slowly moving forward until he is only a few inches from the plexiglass. Will also moved forward, although his movement is so subtle that Hannibal doubts the younger man is even aware that he has moved.

“No.” Will replies, his voice cracking slightly as his expression darkens. “I know I’m not smarter then you.”

“Then how did you catch me?” Hannibal asks.

“I let you kill me.” Will replies without a second’s hesitation.

For a second Hannibal simply stares at Will. You knew. Perhaps not the entire story, but you did know something, didn’t you Will? Yet you didn’t come to my home without backup. You came alone and allowed yourself to be surprised. How… interesting.

“Do you dream much Will?” Hannibal can’t resist asking. He hadn’t been lying all those years ago when he’d expressed a desire to get Will on his couch.

“Goodbye Han—Doctor Lecter.” Will turns and starts to walk down the hallway.

“Give me the file then… and I’ll tell you what I think.” Hannibal sighs, leaning against the plexiglass. Will slowly turns around and walks back towards Hannibal’s cell, holding the file in front of him, almost like a shield. “I need one hour, and privacy.”

Will nods and places the file into the sliding meal try. He waits until Hannibal pulls the tray through and retrieves the file, before he turns and starts heading towards the nurse’s station.

“Just like old times, eh Will?” Hannibal sighs as he opens the file and Will’s footsteps fade away. Hannibal watches the Special Investigator out of the corner of his eye. As Will walks away his hand presses against his side, where the scar that Hannibal give him must lie. It pleases Hannibal to think of that scar—he can’t help but see it as a mark of ownership, a permanent reminder that Will may wear Molly’s ring, but part of him will always be Hannibal’s.

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Exactly one hour after handing the file over Will sits back down in the metal folding chair and—for just a second—Hannibal can pretend that the two of them are in his study, sitting on opposite sides of Hannibal’s desk, discussing a case like they used to. But then one of the other patients mutters something and the vision shatters.

Hannibal leans against the plexiglass, his back to his desk as he looks at the file and the photographs of the crime scene. He’s spent most of the past hour looking at the photographs and all but ignoring the information that some idiot thought was relevant. Oh, he’d skimmed over the written information, but he’d only paid attention to names, dates, times—things that photographs couldn’t necessarily tell you. After allowing himself a few second to simply watch his beautiful boy out of the corner of his eye, Hannibal breaks the silence.

“This is a very shy boy, Will. I’d love to meet him.” Hannibal notes, absentmindedly flipping through the photographs. “You have of course considered the possibility that he’s disfigured? Or that he believes he’s disfigured?”

“Yes. He smashed more mirrors then he… then he needed.” Will replies, leaning forward ever so slightly in the metal folding chair. “What about the women?”

“Dead? Mere puppets.” Hannibal can see that Will is starting to get a better impression of the killer. “You need to see them living—the way they caught his eye.”

“That’s impossible.” Will sighs, clearly fighting to keep himself from getting inside the Tooth Fairy’s head.

“Almost… not quite.” Hannibal smirks as he shifts so that he can look at Will. “What were the yards like?”

“Big backyards, fenced, some hedges. Why?”

“Because if this pilgrim feels a special relationship with the moon, he might like to go outside and look at it. Have you ever seen blood in the moonlight, Will? It appears quite black.” Hannibal explains, imagining what Will would look like with blood on his hands—or on his lips. “If one were nude, say, it would be better to have outdoor privacy for that sort of thing.”

“So the yard is a factor when he selects victims…”

“Yes—and there will be more of them, of course.” Hannibal slowly closes the file. “You’ll be wanting lots of these little chinwags then?”

“I might not have time.” Will sighs, with what Hannibal easily identifies as actual disappointment.

“I do. I have oodles.” Hannibal whispers as he stares at the younger man. “Let me keep the file Will, I’ll study it and you can call me—they can bring in a telephone. Would you like to give me your home number?”

“No.” Will’s eyes, his voice, his entire being seems to be screaming Yes, but you know I can’t. “I need your opinion now.”

“Then here’s one… you stink of fear under that cheap lotion—but you’re not a coward.” Hannibal whispers, watching with delight as a shiver races through Will’s body. “You fear this shy boy—yet still you seek him out. Why did you catch me Will?”

“I let you kill me.” Will’s insistence on this answer is interesting, since the one time that a newspaper had managed to ask him the same question he’d replied that Hannibal had the disadvantage of insanity. It is almost enough to make Hannibal believe that Will didn’t know he was the Chesapeake Ripper until the moment Hannibal stabbed him… but Hannibal still has a nagging feeling that he is missing something.

“No Will.” Hannibal smiles softly at his beautiful boy, who smiles for a half-second before biting his lip to stop himself. “You caught me because we’re very much alike. Without our imaginations we’d be like all those other poor dullards.”

Will tries to hide his reaction to Hannibal’s words—but he doesn’t come anywhere close to succeeding. The good Doctor knows his beautiful boy and he knows how to read the tiny little signs that everyone else misses. Hannibal can see the pride that his words give Will, the longing for the past and—most precious of all—a tiny flame of desire for what they once had. It is a flame that Will had obviously tried to extinguish many times in the last three years, yet it has clearly not gone out.

With a please nod—which manages to draw a confused raised eyebrow from Will—Hannibal moves to the sliding food tray and places the file inside before shoving it through to the other side. Will quickly moves to retrieve the file and, as his hand closes around it he looks up, briefly catching Hannibal’s eye before he quickly looks away and takes an awkward step backward.

“Do give my love to Willy and the lovely Molly.” Hannibal whispers, a smirk on his face. “They are always on my mind you know.”

“Goodbye Hannibal.” Will replies, choking slightly on the older man’s name.

 “Till next time Will.”

Chapter Text

008.    One Last Date…

As Will Graham walks through the hallways of the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane he tries to convince himself that he has a legitimate reason for coming to see Hannibal Lecter. Sure—there’s a picture of the symbol the Tooth Fairy carved into the tree at the Jacobi’s in Will’s pocket and a lot of unanswered questions in his head… but these all seem like excuses to visit Hannibal, not valid reasons. The truth is that Will is starting to get an idea of who the Tooth Fairy is, he doesn’t need Hannibal’s help to get the serial killer’s scent… really, what Will just wants Hannibal’s help. He wants to talk with Hannibal again. During the three years that Hannibal has been imprisoned and Will had been retired he’d often dreamed of just talking to the older man… but the reality is so much better, so much more fulfilling then anything that Will could have dreamed of.

Despite how desperately Will wants to see Hannibal again, part of him is still completely terrified… although the reason for this terror is not as simply as Bloom and Crawford would think it was. Will is scared because he knows that his feelings for Hannibal are not what they should be. What scares Will is the knowledge that he is not scared of Hannibal. When Will had figured this out he’d ended up sitting on the floor of the hotel room he was living in during Hannibal’s trial, laughing until his laughter became sobs and he was curled up on the floor in a ball, shaking and crying.

Even though Will had known of Hannibal’s “exercise time” he finds himself somewhat surprised when he enters the gym and sees Hannibal just walking towards him. For a split second his eyes go a little bit out of focus and it’s as if there is nothing holding Hannibal back, as if the older man could simply step forward and put his hand on Will’s shoulder.

“Good morning Will.” Hannibal smiles ever so slightly as Will looks down at the floor, where a thick red line marks off the space that Hannibal can reach and the space that Will can stand in without getting strange looks from the guard and awkward questions from Crawford. “So nice of you to visit again.”

It’s strange, but Will feels more comfortable standing within arms’ reach of a cannibal then he ever has in Molly’s arms. The thought hurts, like Hannibal’s knife sinking into his side hurt, like waking up strapped down to a hospital bed hurt. Will blinks slowly and does his best to forget Molly—at least for a little while.

“He carved this on a tree near the Jacobi house.” Will explains, holding up the photograph so that Hannibal can see it. “With a buck knife.”

 

“The same one later used on Charles Leeds.”

Will knows that it’s not a question, but he treats it like one, in an attempt to fill the silence.

“Yes.”

“Take a walk with me.” Hannibal doesn’t wait for Will to reply, he simply turns and starts walking counter clockwise in his little oval of space, as close to the red “Do Not Cross” line as possible. Will quickly moves to follow Hannibal and ends up walking by the man’s right side.

“He had a second tool—a bolt cutter. He used that to clear his view…” Will trails off as he finds himself dropping down into the frame of mind where he can slip into the Tooth Fairy’s brain.

“But?” Hannibal prompts.

“I don’t think that’s what he bought it for. It’s too heavy.” Will raises his right hand, imagining the weight of the bolt cutter, thinking of the Jacobi house. “Too awkward, and he had to carry it a long way.”

“And what do we make of that symbol?”

“Asian Studies at Langley identified it as a Chinese character.” Will replies. “It appears on a mah-jong piece—the Red Dragon.”

“Red Dragon.” Hannibal pauses for a moment, looking at Will out of the corner of his eyes, a smirk on his face. “Correct—this boy begins to interest me.”

“We don't know what greater meaning the symbol might have.” Will sighs and before he can say anything else Hannibal cuts him off.

 

“Do you like my little exercise cage, Will?” Hannibal asks, somehow managing to gesture at the gym even though his arms are secure behind his back. “My so-called lawyer is always nagging Dr. Chilton for better accommodations... I don't know which is the greater fool.”

Will doesn’t know how to respond to that… in fact he’s pretty sure that he’s not meant to reply at all… that doesn’t mean that Will doesn’t try.

 “Doctor Lecter—” Before Will is forced to come up with something to say, Hannibal cuts him off.

“A robin redbreast in a cage puts all heaven in a rage—ever been a redbreast, Will?” Hannibal asks as he stops walking and turns to face the younger man. “Of course you have. I'm allowed 10 minutes in here, once a week. Get to the point.”

A robin redbreast in a cage puts all heaven in a rage. Hannibal is quoting something. The words are vaguely familiar, but Will can’t quite place them. He makes a note to look the line up later.

“I think he meant to use the bolt cutter to enter the house... but he didn't. Instead he broke in through the patio doors. The noise woke Jacobi, and he had to shoot him on the stairs. That wasn't planned. ” Will pauses for a second, he has the feeling that he’s forgotten something important, but can’t quite place what that something is. “It was sloppy, and that’s not like him.”

“We mustn’t judge too harshly, Will.” Hannibal smiles as Will realizes that Hannibal’s face is turned away from the guard—somehow the smile feels like a gift. “It was his first time… have you never felt a sudden rush of panic?”

Hannibal suddenly takes a step forward and screeches. The shock of the sudden movement and unexpected sound makes Will take a step back… for a second he’s scared, but after that second his heart rate isn’t elevated because of fear. I wonder if Hannibal knows. Will wonders, before deciding that the good doctor has to know… or at the very least strongly suspect.

“Yeah, that’s the fear we talked about... it takes experience to master it.” Hannibal sighs, straightening up so that he is no longer leaning forward. “You sensed who I was, back when I was committing what you call my ‘crimes’.”

“Yes.” Will replies, finding it hard to speak although inside his head Will is screaming—I didn’t “sense” you Hannibal! I knew! I knew what you were two days before you tried to kill me.

“So you were hurt not by a fault in your perception, or your instincts, but because you failed to act on them until it was too late.” Hannibal replies, his head tilting to once side as he observes Will.

“You could say that.” Will slowly blinks and refuses to meet Hannibal’s gaze. I was stupid and thought I needed to find the right way to tell you… I should have just told you.

“But you're wiser now.” Hannibal points out and Will forces himself to meet the older man’s gaze. “Imagine what you would do, Will, if you could go back in time.”

Will opens his mouth, intending to say ‘put two in your head before you could palm that stiletto’ or some other acceptable answer. But he can’t make the words come out. After a few seconds of silence Will manages a half-hearted shrug as his eyes dart up to the guard who isn’t really watching them.

“Run away w—” Will suddenly realizes he’s speaking and manages to cut himself off before he can say “with you”. Hannibal stares at Will for a second, with something between confusion and happiness on his face. His gaze slowly sweeps over Will and, after a second, Hannibal nods ever so slightly.

“Oh Will…” he whispers, smiling broadly, in a way that Will is sure he should find terrifying, if he wasn’t already possibly/most likely/definitely insane or at the very least severally mentally unstable. Instead Hannibal’s smile—which, if Will is honest, looks more like an animal showing off it’s teeth—draws a shy hesitant smile from the Special Investigator.

“I believe we’re making progress—and that’s what our pilgrim is doing. He is refining his methods. He is evolving.” Hannibal pauses and shifts slightly, his entire demeanor changing in a split second, from something approaching genuinely interested to a façade that Will doesn’t believe for a second. “Oh, the case file mentioned videos of the Leeds family. I’d like to see those.”

“No. It would be obscene.” Will can tell that Hannibal didn’t actually have any desire to see those videos—he just wanted to direct Will’s attention to those videos, to point out something that Will has managed to miss.

“You don't make it easy, do you? Still, one aims to please.” Hannibal sighs. “I'll call you if I think of anything else. Would you perhaps like to leave me your home number?”

Before Will can reply—before he has to choke back a yes, a loud buzzer sounds and a light above the door to the gym turns red as the massive door opens, admitting two guards and a male orderly.

“That’s the end of our session Doctor.” Will whispers, turning back to Hannibal.

“For now.” Hannibal replies as Will turns to walk away. “It was only his first time. Already in Atlanta he did much better. Rest assured, my dear Will... this one will give you plenty of exercise.”

Will turns to look at Hannibal one last time. For a second the two men stare at each other, neither speaking or moving.

“Goodbye Will.” Hannibal sighs as the guards step forward and he turns so that they can see his bound hands. Will flees and doesn’t stop moving until he’s sitting in his FBI issued car. He presses a hand to his face as tears begin to fall and his scar burns—but it doesn’t hurt, except for the fact that it’s a reminder that he is outside and Hannibal is locked up.

Chapter Text

009.    When All Hope Is Lost  

Hannibal gives the Red Dragon the Graham Family’s address and his beautiful boy responds by not only reinstating his privileges, but expanding them. Of course it helps that the Dragon didn’t actually attack Willy and the lovely Molly, but Hannibal had never thought that his message would go unnoticed—after all, he could have easily hidden the Dragon’s letter where no bumbling janitor would ever find it.

Hannibal suspects that Will knows this, since in addition to the expansion of privileges Will also gifts Hannibal with the finest dinner he’s had in three years and the music that Chilton loves to deny him. Dinner and a show—the words had brought a small soft smile to Will’s face and Hannibal had almost asked that Will stay with him—that his beautiful boy eat and drink and, if not enter his cell, then at least be allowed to sit close enough that Hannibal could reach through one of the air holes and touch the younger man. Close enough for Hannibal to lean forward and whisper, whisper words meant for the Special Investigator and no one else. Despite Will’s absence Hannibal’s dinner and show had been very enjoyable, it had been so pleasant to tease Chilton with a mocking toast, safe in the knowledge that the chief of staff had no way of striking back at him.

Hannibal Lecter subscribes to several newspapers and a handful of tabloids. From the newspapers he gets the facts of Will’s exploits, while the tabloids give him the sensational photographs. The conclusion of the Red Dragon / Tooth Fairy case is disappointingly simple—although the addition of Reba McClane, the blind woman who seems to have been the Will to the Red Dragon’s Hannibal, makes for some interesting reading. Hannibal wonders how hard it would be to send her a letter—while Hannibal can read Braille, he doesn’t have the materials he would need to compose a letter to Miss. McClane.

Hannibal thinks that it is a pity his darling boy didn’t get to confront the Red Dragon—either at the man’s home or in court… but at least now the FBI should leave Will alone. While Hannibal dislikes the idea that Will is wasting his talents fixing boats, he prefers a tanned and well rested Will to the Will torn apart by the knowledge of what he is and what he is simply pretending to be. At least if Will is left alone on the beach with Molly and Willey he won’t be torn in two directions. While Will may not be truly happy, at least he will be free…

 

On the third day after the Red Dragon blew himself up, the usual schedule of life in the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane is interrupted about two hours after breakfast. Hannibal is lying on his cot, imagining that he and his beautiful boy are walking on a beach somewhere in the Caribbean, when he hears the door at the end of the maximum-security section opening and the annoying squeak of the wheels on the stand for the TV that Chilton likes to punish him with being rolled down the hall.

Hannibal blinks slowly  and moves to his desk, where his correspondence is laid out for his inspection. He wonders what he has done to offend the chief of staff… he hasn’t done anything on purpose to upset the incompetent “Doctor”.

“Mr. Chilton, what can I do for you today?” Hannibal asks as the man comes to a stop outside of his cell. Barney, who had been following close behind pushing the television, silently moves to plug it in as Chilton stares at Hannibal.

“Full volume until I say otherwise.” Chilton orders Barney, not even bothering to look at the nurse.

 “Yes Sir.” Barney replies as Chilton turns and strides off down the hallway. The nurse fiddles with the television until the doors to the maximum security section close behind the Chief of Staff.

“So what am I being punished for?” Hannibal asks.

“Will Graham is in a coma.” Barney informs him. “Dolarhyde didn’t kill himself, he faked it and followed him back to Florida.”

Hannibal sees red as he thinks of the Tooth Fairy harming his beautiful boy. He imagines ripping the pathetic man into pieces and burning his remains—such trash is not even worthy to be eaten, it only deserves destruction. He imagines tying Dolarhyde down and handing Will a stiletto, watching as his Special Investigator carves the Fairy into little tiny pieces. He had given the Fairy Will’s address so that the “pilgrim” could dispose of Willy and Molly—not so that he could harm his darling boy.

Barney turns on the television and flips it over to a news channel, where a woman with atrocious fake blond hair is reporting on the shooting. In the corner of the screen is a video of what Hannibal assumes is Will’s house in Florida—there are cop cars parked outside and police are crawling all over the place.

“Thank you Barney.” Hannibal smiles as he sits down on his cot to watch.

“I’ll have to change it over to the preacher in about an hour, when Chilton comes down.” Barney says before he turns and starts walking down the hallways.

“Of course.” Hannibal whispers, staring at the screen where shaky footage of paramedics carrying someone out of the house on a stretcher is now playing. The camera zooms in on the face of the person in the stretcher and Hannibal can’t stop himself from gasping—it’s Will on the stretcher, his eyes closed and an oxygen mask on his face. A paramedic is pressing a cloth to Will’s stomach and Hannibal can see the blood staining Will’s shirt.

Hannibal finds himself thinking of Will’s last visit—Put me next to him! That’s what you want, isn’t it? To help him succeed where you failed?—Hannibal hopes that Will knows that he had no intention of putting him up against the Fairy. Hannibal hadn’t wanted to help the Fairy succeed, he wanted to help Will. Hannibal had never intended to give the Fairy a chance to kill Will—he would never do that to his beloved boy.

If Will Graham had to die, if Will Graham’s destiny was to be murdered, then Hannibal wanted to be the one to do it. He wanted to be the one to take complete possession of Will’s heart.

Chapter Text

010.    Together Always

“Shoot him.”

Molly picks the gun up off the floor. Will can hear the Dragon moving in the hallway.

“Shoot him!”

Will.

Willy is under the bed, sobbing. Molly staggers towards the hallway, towards the Dragon.

Wake up Will.

Molly shoots the Dragon, Will’s eyes start to drift closed.

But I am awake.

Molly fires again and again—four times in all and the world starts to get dark.

It’s just a dream Will.

Willy runs to his mother’s arms, leaving Will lying on the ground, fast losing consciousness… and blood.

Hannibal?

Will can hear the sirens wailing in the distance as his eyes close… and then slowly open. He is lying on his left side in a bed with dark red silk sheets, with his head resting on Hannibal’s chest. He is under the luxurious sheets, in soft cotton pajama pants and nothing else. Hannibal is lying on top of the sheets and is casually dressed in grey slacks and a white collared shirt. Will blinks slowly and Hannibal’s hand runs through his hair.

“Bad dreams Will?”

“Strange dreams.” Will whispers, his eyes drifting closed again as Hannibal’s hand continues to run through his hair. “I was living with Molly and a man attacked us.”

“Why would a man attack you?”

“He was a serial killer. I was helping the FBI catch him…” Will yawns and moves ever so slightly closer to Hannibal, one hand falling to rest on Hannibal’s chest.

“And why were you back with the FBI?” Hannibal asks as he places his hand on top of Will’s.

“I… I don’t remember.” Will blinks as he tries to remember his dream.

“It doesn’t matter Will.” Hannibal smiles, lightly squeezing Will’s hand. “My beautiful boy…”

Hannibal leans over and captures Will’s lips in a gentle kiss. Will smiles and his eyes drift closed as he surrenders to the older man, who tangles his hand in Will’s hair. When Hannibal pulls back from the kiss he smirks and reaches forward to run a finger along Will’s lips.

“Are you hungry Will? Dinner should be ready now.”

“I’m starving.” Will smiles and Hannibal stands up, holding his hand out to help Will do the same. “What did you make?”

“Irish beef stew” Hannibal replies as he leads Will out of the bedroom and into the dining room of their Baltimore townhouse. “Of course, I took some… liberties with the recipe.”

“I can’t wait.” Will practically purrs, not caring that he is half-naked. Hannibal leans over and nips at Will’s neck, drawing a giggle from the younger man. He sooths the spot with a gentle kiss and the two turn to the kitchen, where a pot of stew sits on the stove. Will leans against the refrigerator as Hannibal turns off the stove and fills two bowls with the steaming stew.

“Confess Hannibal…” Will smirks as he picks up the bowls and moves towards the kitchen table, Hannibal following close behind him, bottle of wine in one hand and two glasses in the others. “What is your secret?”

“It’s very simple Will.” Hannibal replies as he sits down next to Will, placing the glasses down on the table and pouring the wine. The older man leisurely takes a sip of his wine and watches as Will uses his spoon to scoop up one of the chunks of meat and eats it. “It’s all in the spices—although it is a pity that I couldn’t think of a more… meaningful dish for the lovely Molly.”

“You should be proud of your work Hannibal.” Will smiles. “You managed to make a cheap meat taste luxuriously rich.”

“Well I can’t take all the credit.” Hannibal laughs softly as he tastes the soup. “The butcher did a marvelous job when he slaughtered her.”

“Well I had an excellent teacher.”Will replies, taking a sip of his wine as he leans against Hannibal’s side.

“My beautiful boy.” Hannibal sighs as he wraps his arm around the younger man’s shoulders. “I am sorry my dear Will… but our time is almost over.”

“What?” Will blinks and tries to turn to face Hannibal, only to find that he can’t move his arms. He opens his mouth to speak but there’s something in his throat. His chest hurts and the world gets fuzzy. He wants to scream, he tries to scream… but his eyes snap open.

Will is lying on a hospital bed, with a tube down his throat. He looks down as much as he can and finds that his arms and legs are tied down. His chest is wrapped in bandages, although strangely the patch of skin which carries the scar Hannibal gave him is naked. Will shifts as much as he can, and looks towards the door, where a police officer has just turned to look at him. Will closes his eyes as the woman runs to get a nurse and tears start to roll down his cheeks.

Why couldn’t I have stayed asleep? He wonders. Why couldn’t this have been the dream?

Chapter Text

011.    You Will Never Look At Me

It takes the Tattler three days to sneak a man past the Hospital’s security so that he can take a photograph of William Graham lying in a hospital bed with bandages wrapped around his body and a tube down his throat. The next issue of the Tattler has that photograph on the front page, in vivid color, with a small black and white reproduction of a very similar photograph from three years ago inside the issue. The two photographs were connected by some poorly written story that Hannibal didn’t even bother to read. Instead he focused on the photograph, committing the image of his beloved boy to memory and creating a fitting place for it inside his memory palace.

The most pleasing part of the photograph is the placement of Will’s bandages—they almost seem to frame the scar that Hannibal gave Will, the scar that Hannibal had never had a chance to see before now. He spends some time staring at that scar, running his finger along the paper and imagining what it would feel like under his fingers in real life. He wonders how sensitive the scar is and if Molly ever touches it—or if she prefers to completely ignore the scar, to pretend that it doesn’t exist, to deny the impact that Hannibal has had upon her husband.

Two days after the Tattler runs the photograph of Will the young man once again appears on the front page, although this time the photograph is one that was taken at Hannibal’s trail. According to the Tattler Molly has left Will—the tabloid says that Molly boarded a plane with Willy while Will was still on the operating table. Molly is staying with her parents and the Tattler says that she’s already hired divorce lawyer. Hannibal knows better than to blindly trust the Tattler, but he can’t stop himself from hoping that the story is at least partially true.

On the sixth day Will wakes up. The Ex-Special Investigator refuses to talk to anyone, let alone a reporter from the Tattler. By the time that Will leaves the hospital the world has moved on—Will may have caught both Hannibal Lecter and the Tooth Fairy, but now there is a new serial killer for the public to focus their attention on—Buffalo Bill. Hannibal follows the FBI’s investigation of Buffalo Bill with only mild interest—he is more interested in Will Graham, who is now living alone in Florida with his scars and his memories.

Two days before Clarice Starling arrives at the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane to interview him, Hannibal sits down at his desk and writes a letter to Will Graham.

Hannibal isn’t surprised when he doesn’t receive a reply.

Chapter Text

012.    Your Love Is Suffocating Me

Will Graham wakes up with new scars on his chest and a letter from Molly informing him that she wants a divorce. Will sees no reason in fighting—let Molly find herself a husband who doesn’t run towards dangerous situations, a man who could become Willy’s father.

Molly and Willy board a plane and leave Will’s life before he’s off the operating table. Will doesn’t miss them, not even on the first night he spends back in the house on Sugarloaf Key.

The Tattler manages to get a picture of Will lying in his hospital bed, but by the time that he’s out of the hospital they’ve lost interest and moved on to new scandals. As Will finishes recovering in his house on the beach a new serial killer crawls into the public eye. He follows the story of “Buffalo Bill” without any real interest. The FBI doesn’t show up asking for his help and Will doesn’t offer it. Instead the ex-Special Investigator spends his days fixing boats, taking care of his dogs and thinking about the past. Will spends his nights dreaming of what could have been—of red silk sheets and a Hannibal Lecter who isn’t locked up in a mental hospital.

Will has been on his own in the beach house for two weeks when two letters arrive alongside the usual junk mail and bills. One is a thick packet from the FBI, asking for him to fill out several questionnaires for the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program. Will counts as both an investigator and a surviving victim, so he has four questionnaires to fill out—two for Hannibal Lecter and two for the Red Dragon.

The second letter has been forwarded to him from the FBI from the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane… Will opens the letter thinking that it’ll be some sort of request from Chilton, but instead he finds a letter from Hannibal.

My dear Will,

You must be nearly healed by now, on the outside at least. What a collection of scars you have. You should be grateful Will—our scars have the power to remind us that the past was real. When in doubt, I suggest that you look at yourself in a mirror, or trace those scars with your finger, and remember how you got them. I hope that you won’t forget who gave you the best of them.

So here we are Will, back in our respective corners of the world. I sit here alone in my cell and you lie alone on your beach. We live in a primitive time, don’t we Will? Neither savage nor wise. Half measures are the curse of it. A “rational” society would either kill me or put me to use. I wonder, what would that “rational” society do to you?

Do you dream much Will? I think of you often. I have come to the conclusion that the world is more interesting with you in it, and I am glad that you survived both our little encounter in Baltimore and you’re more recent encounter with the Tooth Fairy who thought himself a Dragon.

Your old friend,

Hannibal Lecter M.D.

Will reads the letter three times before dropping it on the kitchen table. He stares at the paper for a second before he moves to get a beer out of the fridge. He takes a sip and sits down, smoothing the letter out with his hand and reading it through one again. When he reaches the end of Hannibal’s letter for a fourth time Will leaves the kitchen to retrieve a piece of paper and a pen.

Hannibal,

I don’t know what a rational society would do with me. I don’t even know what I should do with myself. Molly left before I’d even stopped bleeding and I was so glad that I never had to see her again, that I never had to see her stare at my scars with disgust on her face.

I dream Hannibal. I dream of red sheets and your townhouse in Baltimore. I dream that I left Molly and that you were never caught. After the Tooth Fairy shot me I dreamt that we’d killed her. You had shown me how to butcher her and then you’d cooked her into an Irish stew. Do you know what I did the first day that I was out of the hospital Hannibal? I went to a restaurant and ordered a bowl of Irish stew.

I don’t know what to do with myself Hannibal. I know that normal people don’t think favorably of dreams where they’re a murderer and a cannibal. I know that normal people wouldn’t feel the way I do. I know that I shouldn’t still be in love with you.

God Hannibal, what am I supposed to do with myself? I don’t know how long I can stay like this, trying to ignore what I want, trying to pretend that I’m something approaching sane.

—Will Graham

The letter sits on Will’s kitchen table for three days. Early on the morning of the fourth day Will sticks the letter in an envelope and addresses it. He even hunts down a stamp and sticks it on the envelope… but he doesn’t send it. The envelope sits on the kitchen table for three more days, before Will burns it in a bonfire on the beach.

Although Will burns his response, he keeps Hannibal’s letter. It ends up in the same small wooden box that holds the other letters that Hannibal has sent him and the sketches the older man has drawn for him. When Will had been married to Molly he’d kept the box in the closet, next to his gun… now he keeps the gun under his bed and the box on his bedside table.

Chapter Text

013.    Paint The Night With Stars


When Clarice Starling first walked into Hannibal Lecter’s life he never would have thought that his interactions with the Trainee Agent, who appears to be Jack Crawford’s new favorite, would lead to his freedom.

Hannibal sees the young woman as nothing more than a distraction, a source of amusement. The young woman—with her expensive bag, cheap shoes and an accent that she tries but fails to hide—is not very impressive. She’s nowhere near as brave or interesting as Hannibal’s beloved boy… although Starling is a great deal braver then his usual visitors, who all but run up and down the hallway that leads to Hannibal’s cell and never come within arm’s reach of the glass. Clarice is also a lot less annoying—she turns attempts to manipulate him into jokes. Clarice Starling is reasonably enjoyable to converse with, so Hannibal rewards her by putting her on the scent of Buffalo Bill and making Multiple Miggs eat his own tongue.

Hannibal does not fill out the questionnaire. He would have filled the sheets of paper out if they had been delivered by his beautiful boy. For Will Hannibal would have allowed the FBI to dissect him with their horribly blunt instrument. For his brave boy he even would have given the Behavioral Sciences Division semi-truthful answers.

When Clarice Starling returns demanding to know whose head she has stumbled upon, Hannibal indulges her once again… the choice between talking with Clarice and listening to the preacher on the television is not a hard one to make. The moment that Clarice sits down in front of his cell a plan begins to form in Hannibal’s mind—through Clarice Starling he offers Jack Crawford assistance with Buffalo Bill.

Hannibal Lecter is no fool—he knows that Chilton listens to his conversations. Crawford gives Clarice a fake offer, which leads to Chilton seeking out a real agreement with the Senator. The man even provides Hannibal with the tools he will need to make his escape easier—Hannibal finds it amusing that Chilton’s pen, which has never produced anything worthwhile, will finally be of use.

Hannibal is touched when Clarice brings his drawings to Memphis… even though it is apparent that she only does so in order to gain his trust, to get Hannibal to help her find the real Buffalo Bill, not the ghost the police and the FBI are chasing after. It is only polite that he give her a tiny little clue, scribbled on the map in the case file and handed off to Starling at the last possible second.

Clarice Starling does not disappoint. She follows the correct path and locates Jame Gumb, managing to save Catherine Martin and kill Buffalo Bill… of course Jack Crawford rewards his new favorite by ensuring that she becomes a real Agent. On the night of Starling’s ceremony Hannibal is in Jamaica, where Fredrick Chilton has decided to vacation. He is standing at a public phone, planning what he is going to prepare for dinner and scanning the streets for Chilton as he waits for Special Agent Starling to answer her phone call.

“Starling.” The young woman sounds like if she’s just run up a flight of stairs.

“Well, Clarice, have the lambs stopped screaming?”

“Doctor Lector?”

“Don’t bother with the trace—I won’t be on long enough.”

“Where are you Doctor Lecter?” Clarice asks and Hannibal has to resist the urge to laugh—she actually sounds like she expects Hannibal to give her an honest answer.

“I have no plans to call on you Clarice…” Hannibal informs the new Special Agent as he looks up at the stars. “So you take care now to extend me the same courtesy.”

“You know I can’t make you that promise.” Clarice replies, a hint of sadness in her voice.

“I do wish we could chat longer…” Hannibal smiles as he catches sight of Chilton, who is walking along the street, looking everywhere but where Hannibal is sitting. “But I’m having an old friend for dinner. Goodbye Clarice.”

Hannibal Lecter hangs up the phone and calmly steps on to the crowded streets, following not too far behind Frederick Chilton… tonight he will cook for the first time in years and he will eat on the balcony of his hotel room, where he can look up at the night sky and paint Will Graham’s image among the stars.

Chapter Text

014.    Guardian Angel   

Will is watching TV when a news reporter informs him that Frederick Chilton has arranged a deal between Hannibal Lecter and Senator Ruth Martin. The ex-Special Investigator doesn’t laugh, although he is tempted to. Instead he just sits by the phone and waits.

The call that Will is expecting comes in just before midnight. Hannibal the Cannibal Lecter has escaped from police custody in Memphis, killing two guards, a tourist and severely injuring several EMTs. Jack Crawford personally calls Will to give him the news and make an offer. Crawford is one hundred percent sure that Hannibal will come after Will, so the FBI wants to use him as bait. Will hangs up on Crawford, goes upstairs and pulls out the last letter Hannibal had sent him.

 Do you dream much Will? I think of you often. I have come to the conclusion that the world is more interesting with you in it, and I am glad that you survived both our little encounter in Baltimore and you’re more recent encounter with the Tooth Fairy who thought himself a Dragon.

With Hannibal’s letter in his hand Will calls the Tattler and sells his story. The next day the tabloid screams out it’s headline—HANNIBAL LECTER ESCAPES! FBI TRIES TO USE HEROIC AGENT AS BAIT! Will hopes that Hannibal will see the tabloid and understand the real meaning in Will’s words, the real message that he wants to send to the escaped serial killer…

The world is more interesting with you in it.

After he sells his story Will sees a few men lurking around his house, who could be with the FBI or could just be reporters trying to get a story… but soon enough he is left alone. Clarice Starling has become the star of the show and Will is yesterday’s news. Eventually the ex-Special Investigator finds himself alone once again… alone with what little remains of his sanity. Sane people don’t want to run away with cannibalistic serial killers after all.

Two weeks after the Tattler runs Will’s story a plain envelope arrives in the mail, sealed with a drop of blood red wax which holds the perfect impression of a fingerprint. Inside the envelope is a scrap of paper with an address on it and a letter which bears Hannibal’s handwriting

William,

You cannot imagine my surprise when I saw that you, of all people, had contacted the Tattler. I had thought that the Special Investigator inside you would inssit upon a very different course of action. Have you finally come to terms with the fact that we are not so different after all? Or I this too much to hope for?

I have posed a question to you twice now Will, a question that you have neglected to answer. I would very much like to hear from you William. Write to the enclosed address Will, I have ensured that Crawford and his new favorite will not be able to follow it.

Do you dream Will?

- Hannibal Lecter M.D.

Will send out his reply the same day that he receives Hannibal’s letter—he does not write a return address on the envelope and gets a friend of his to take the letter to the mainland and mail it from a random post office box. Will’s friend thinks that the letter is addressed to a “secret girlfriend” that Will doesn’t want the FBI, the press and Hannibal Lecter to know about. Will just smiles and doesn’t lie—he tells his friend that “it’s complicated.”

Chapter Text

015.    Telling You The Truth

The letter does not have a return address, but Hannibal instantly knows that it is from his Will. Hannibal forces himself to set the envelope aside and deal with the rest of his correspondence. Once Hannibal finishes the tedious business of moving funds around and transferring property to new aliases he allows himself to focus on Will’s letter.

Hannibal,

When you first asked me I dreamed, I was worried that Chilton would somehow hear my response and sell my story to the Tattler, or attempt to analyze me, which would have been worse. The second time you asked I wrote a response, but I couldn’t send it. I was more truthful in that letter then I had ever been in real life, so I burnt it instead of sending it, instead of acknowledging what I had written as the truth.

Yes Hannibal, I dream. I dream quite often in fact. Recently those dreams have been of the night that I “caught” you. I dream that things went very differently. In those dreams I’m not afraid and I tell you the truth the moment the door closes behind me.

I knew that you were the Chesapeake Ripper Hannibal. I’d known for two days before that night. I wanted to tell you, I’d planned on telling you. I wanted to stay with you, even after I knew about your “crimes”. I’d made an appointment with a divorce lawyer. Remember when you asked me what I’d change, if I could go back and do it all again? I’d run away with you.

But I can’t turn back time. So instead I dream of red sheets and your townhouse in Baltimore. I dream that I left Molly and that you were never caught. After the Tooth Fairy shot me I dreamt that we’d killed her. In my dream you showed me how to butcher hand and then you’d cooked her into an Irish stew. Then, on the first day that I was out of the hospital, I went to a restaurant and ordered a bowl of Irish stew.

I don’t blame you for what happened in Baltimore. I’m strangely proud of the scar you gave me and I’ll wear it proudly until the day I die—whenever that day may be. It’s strange, but that scar is in a way more meaningful to me then my wedding ring ever was.

- Will

As soon as he finishes reading Will’s letter Hannibal starts making preparations to return to the United Sates. He has to see his beloved boy once again, he has to give Will an opportunity to chose a new path… hopefully the ex-Special Investigator will chose one which will create a place for Hannibal in his beloved boys life.

Unfortunately Hannibal Lecter is currently at the top of the FBI’s Most Wanted list, so even a short trip—for example a flight from Jamaica to Florida—takes much longer then Hannibal would prefer. He won’t be able to see his brave boy for two weeks.

Chapter Text

016.    You Don’t Know What You Have Done To Me   

The evening news reports that the FBI believes Hannibal has left the country. The Tattler thinks that Lecter is in a secret bunker in Alaska with Elvis. There’s already been several murders where the killer tried to make it seem like Hannibal was responsible. Frederick Chilton has apparently gone into hiding—both to avoid Hannibal and to avoid the press.

Jack Crawford makes a final attempt to get Will involved in tracking down Hannibal. Actually he makes two—the first time Jack sends Special Agent Ardelia Mapp with the case file and an envelope full of photographs of Hannibal’s newest victims. Will is kind and respectful to the young woman, but refuses to help the bureau. The second time Jack actually comes and knocks on Will’s door himself. Will doesn’t answer the door and, when Jack refuses to leave without talking to him, Will yells at Crawford, telling the man he used to think of as a friend to leave him alone.

With every day that passes without a reply from Hannibal, Will finds himself slipping a little further away from sanity. He forces himself to get out of bed every day and go through his daily routine. Will does his best to ignore the fact that his daily routine makes it look like he’s preparing to either die or run away—he finds homes for the dogs, even the really ugly ones and stops taking new boats in for repairs. Every day Will holds off on getting his mail for as long as possible—he doesn’t want to seem too eager, although Will is fairly certain that no one is watching. Every day he finds nothing but junk.

Shortly after Agent Mapp’s visit Will starts to have trouble sleeping. He stays up almost all night, until the sun starts to rise and he all but collapses into bed, on the couch or—once or twice, on the floor of whatever room he’s in. No matter where he falls asleep, Will always finds himself waking up only a few hours later. Sometimes when he sits down he’ll drift off, which ends up in him landing face first in a peanut butter and honey sandwich. Soon Will starts to lose his appetite, first for certain foods, then for food in general. What Will can force himself to eat often comes back up only a few hours later.

When Will lies down but can’t fall asleep he curls up in his bed and pulls out the box that he keeps Hannibal’s letters in. As the hours slowly creep by Will reads the letters over and over again until he eventually falls asleep, holding Hannibal’s letters close to him as if they are some sort of security blanket. He wakes exhausted—both mentally and physically. Every day it gets harder and harder to pull himself out of bed.

Chapter Text

017.    Black Wings; Wings   

Will’s house on Sugarloaf Key sits silent and dark under the stars. The only sound is the gentle repetitive sound of the waves on the nearby beach and a few crickets. The house is also unwatched—either Jack Crawford no longer cares what happens to Will Graham, or the Director of the Behavioral Science Unit believes that Hannibal has already left the country. After all, Will did refuse to aid Crawford in capturing the man who tried to kill him twice.

The front door to Will’s house is unlocked. Inside the spacious house is simply decorated, with obvious places where pictures and other decorations have been removed. There is a fine layer of dust on most of the surfaces and a single glass with a small amount of water in it sits on the coffee table which is between the couch and the television. Hannibal closes and locks the front door before he slowly moves through the house, stepping into every room on the first floor before he heads up the stairs.

Hannibal pauses for a second to look at a single toy abandoned on the floor of what must have been Willy’s bedroom before he steps into the master bedroom, where Will Graham is sleeping. The ex-Special Investigator has dark circles under his eyes and is a good deal thinner then he appeared to be in the last photograph that the Tattler had run. Will is curled up on his side in the fetal position, with several pieces of paper in his hands—when Hannibal leans in to inspect them he is mildly surprised to find that the papers are the letters that he sent Will. Letters from before, during and after Hannibal’s imprisonment… letters that Will had thought Will would have destroyed.

Without waking Will, Hannibal gathers up the letters and places them in a wooden box on Will’s bedside table. After a second of hesitation the older man lays down next to Will and reaches out to brush the hair away from the younger man’s face. Will mumbles something but does not wake—although he leans towards Hannibal’s hand as a smile appears on his face.

“Oh Will.” Hannibal whispers as he inspects the younger man more closely. “You haven’t been taking care of yourself?”

Hannibal Lecter presses a gentle kiss to Will’s cheek and pulls the blankets up around the younger man. He stares down at his beautiful boy, wondering what will happen when the young man wakes. He thinks of the letter Will sent him, of the dream that his beloved boy described where Will had helped Hannibal kill his ex-wife. Hannibal decides that first thing he will cook for Will Graham will be Irish beef stew, although he will use real beef instead of Will’s ex-wife.

But now there are more pressing matters to attend to. Before he can turn his angel’s wings black, Hannibal needs to take care of the younger man… right now Will looks like he could be knocked over by a stiff breeze.

Chapter Text

018.    Listen To The Music At Night   

When Will opens his eyes the room is dark and soft classical music is playing in the background. His thoughts are pleasantly fuzzy and he is comfortably warm due to the sheets that have been pulled up around him. The letters he fell asleep reading are gone, but for some reason none of this frightens or alarms him. The former special agent blinks lazily and fully opens his eyes. He is not surprised to see Doctor Lecter sitting on the edge of his bed.

“Hello Hannibal.” Will whispers.

“Will… you’ve been taking rather poor care of yourself.” Hannibal remarks, reaching forward and pushing a lock of hair out of Will’s face.

“I was waiting for you.” Will replies, finding that he is having trouble keeping his eyes open. “So, are you going to eat my heart?”

“Now Will, why would I do that?” Hannibal whispers as he places a hand over Will’s heart. “It would be quite foolish of me to destroy something so rare and valuable.”

Keeping his hand over Will’s heart, Hannibal leans forward and gently kisses the younger man, who shivers slightly as he reaches up and places his hand over Hannibal’s. When the two pull apart Will stares up at Hannibal and squeezes the older man’s hand.

“I’m sorry.” Will whispers.

“You have nothing to apologize for.” Hannibal replies. “You did very well Will.”

“So what happens now?” Will asks.

“I was thinking we’d go to South America first…” Hannibal sighs as he lies down next to Will, who moves closer to the older man without thinking. “Then, when the FBI finds some new ‘monster’ to chase after, we can go to Europe. I’d love to show you Florence Will.”

“I was worried you wouldn’t want me anymore…” Will whispers as he buries his face in Hannibal’s side. “I read about Starling and thought—”

“That I’d replaced you?” Hannibal laughs softly. “My beautiful boy, I could never replace you.”

Chapter Text

019.    Crying All Night For You   

 

“I read about Starling and thought—”

“That I’d replaced you?” Hannibal laughs softly. “My beautiful boy, I could never replace you.”

Will’s grip tightens on Hannibal’s hand, pressing the two men’s hands closer to Will’s chest. Hannibal smiles and runs his free hand through his beloved boy’s hair as—slowly—Will relaxes. It takes roughly minute for Will to completely relax. However Will doesn’t completely release his grip on Hannibal’s hand. Once he is almost boneless Will shifts so that he is looking up at Hannibal. The younger man has a soft smile on his face—Hannibal can see something hesitant in his smile, but it is a smile none the less.

Will smiles and Hannibal leans forward, gently kissing the younger man and allowing himself to get lost in the moment, in the feeling of having Will in his arms instead of on the other side of a thick plastic wall or across a red line that he can not cross. When the two men part to breathe Hannibal decides not to wait any longer to see the evidence of his and Will’s last physical encounter… and the Tooth Fairy’s parting gift.

“May I see then Will?” Hannibal asks.

Will does not answer the older man’s question. He simply releases his grip on Hannibal’s hand and pulls away from the embrace so that he can sit up. As Hannibal watches Will pulls his old faded t-shirt off and stretches before tossing the shirt into his laundry hamper. The shirt lands half on the edge of the basket and half on the floor as Hannibal sits up and presses himself up against Will’s back.

Hannibal can feel a shiver race down his beloved boy’s spine as Will leans back against Hannibal. The blond rests his head on Hannibal’s shoulder as the serial killer wraps his arms around Will’s waist.

“I spent my first night out of the Hospital in a hotel in Baltimore. Molly was dow here, setting up the house and waiting for me to join her after your trial…” Will whispers as Hannibal closes his eyes and starts a slow and through inspection of Will’s waist. As Will speaks Hannibal’s fingers slowly circle closer and closer to the scar that he gave Will so long ago. “There were police officers standing outside my door and all around the hotel. I had an armed escort from the hospital… when I close the door it was the first time I’d been alone in two weeks.”

Hannibal’s fingers touch the edge Will’s scar and the younger man shudders as a whimper slips past his lips. Hannibal freezes, concerned that he has somehow harmed the ex-Special Investigator. Before Hannibal can speak Will’s hand rises to cover Hannibal’s and he presses the cannibal’s fingers back against his scar.

“So what did you do, when you were finally alone?” Hannibal asks the eideteker.

“I wanted to cry.” Will replies as Hannibal works on committing the scar to memory. “But I couldn’t… at least not at first. At first I just sat on the bed and—and it felt like I was waiting, like I was going to wake up and find that everything had been a horrible dream.”

Hannibal slowly moves his hands up Will’s chest, seeking out and finding the smaller scars that decorate Will’s skin. These are the marks left by the Tooth Fairy’s attempt to end his beloved boy’s life… Hannibal does not spend long inspecting these scars. They are not important—they are small, expertly stitched and well cared for. In time they shall fade away and no mark will remain. The Tooth Fairy, the man who desired to become a Dragon, holds no power over Will Graham’s life. If Will Graham belongs to anyone, besides himself, then he belongs to Hannibal.

“But I didn’t wake up.” Will continues his story. “So I just sat on that lumpy bed, trying to figure out what I was supposed to do. By the time an officer brought me breakfast the next day I’d managed to figure out a way to pretend to hate you.”

“You did a marvelous job. At my trial you played the part of the ‘Special Investigator’ to perfection… I am so sorry my dear Will.” Hannibal whispers as he abandons his investigation of Will’s scars. He wraps an arm around his beloved boy’s waist, so that his right hand is completely covering Will’s scar. With his other hand the Chesapeake Ripper cups Will Graham’s face and runs a thumb over Will’s cheek.

“Sorry?” Will blinks before he leans forward, so that his forehead is resting against Hannibal’s. “Why should you be sorry?”

“For causing those tears.” Hannibal replies, pressing against Will’s scar until he can feel the pulse of the younger man’s heart. “And for causing you to doubt that I would come for you—for making you think that I had replaced you.”

Hannibal leans in and claims Will’s lips in a savage kiss, drawing a please whimper from the blond haired man, who reaches up to cup Hannibal’s cheek with one hand as his eyes slip closed. In his mind Hannibal is thinking of gestures of affection, of candlelit dinners and walks under the stars… but also of the perfect ring that he can present to his beloved boy as a symbol of his undying affection.

Chapter Text

020.    Never Leave Me Again

Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham leave Florida and slip away from the United States on a luxurious cruise ship bound for the Caribbean. Their room is not the best suite that the ship has—since that would attract a little too much attention from the staff—but it is certainly one of the best. Suite 218 has a large bedroom, private balcony, a sitting room and a luxurious bathroom with a tub big enough for three people to sit in comfortably at the same time.

Will leaves almost everything he owns in Sugarloaf, in a house he has no intention of ever returning to. He takes only a few pieces of clothing and the wooden box which holds Hannibal’s letters and drawings—all of this easily fits into a backpack. Hannibal also has very little in his luggage—he has a few more pieces of clothing then Will and some art supplies.

Once they board the ship Hannibal and Will spend most of their time in their suite, not wanting to attract too much attention—they’d seen dozens of wanted posters with Hannibal’s photograph before they boarded the ship. Will goes out more often then Hannibal—to simply walk around the ship and occasionally swim in the pool. Thanks to his own personal dislike of reporters and Clarice Starling, there very few people who know who Will Graham is and even fewer people who could identify him on sight.

One of the few expeditions out of the suite that Hannibal takes is a trip to the more expensive stores onboard the ship… specifically to a jewelry store geared towards the more elite passengers, where Hannibal is pleasantly surprised to find exactly what he was looking for. That night Will returns to the suite and finds a small black jewelry box sitting on a small table next to the door, the same table where he usually drops his room key.

The next time Will leaves Suite 218 he has a ring on his left hand—Will’s ring has a center band of two yellow gold threads wrapped around each other, with white gold surrounding the threads.

Will finds that the ring on his finger discourages most of the women who had been chatting him up at every opportunity… with the exception of one woman who is staying in a suite a few doors down from theirs. She sees the ring and then, later that night, sees Hannibal and Will returning to the Suite together. The next day she starts flirting and trying to get Will to pray with her.

A few days later that same woman makes the mistake of following Hannibal and Will off the ship and on to the small island they have chosen to stay on. Hannibal has decided to have some plastic surgery done to make traveling to Europe easier and has managed to get a beach house for the two men to stay at while he gets the surgery and during his recovery.

The woman, like so many Americans in foreign countries, vanishes off the face of the earth. The authorities and volunteers concentrate their search for her two islands over from Will and Hannibal’s home, where the ex-Special Investigator and the Chesapeake Ripper prepare a Jamaican style curry with one very… unconventional ingredient.


(Author's Note: This ring is the basis for Hannibal and Will's rings.)

Chapter Text

021.    Seeking For You

Will Graham’s home on Sugarloaf Keys is dark and silent… the doors are locked, the windows shut, the blinds drawn. Mail is starting to pilling up in the mailbox and the ex-Special Agent’s phone number has been disconnected. Clarice Starling—who has only been an FBI Agent for two weeks—has come to Sugarloaf Keys to talk with the only other person who managed to talk with and get the corporation of Hannibal Lecter.

Instead of a blond man whom Clarice has only seen in photographs and on TV the young woman finds a completely abandoned home, with a letter addressed to John Crawford underneath the front door’s knocker. Clarice doesn’t recognize that handwriting, so she slips on a pair of gloves before she opens the unsealed envelope—inside there is a short letter, a letter which is in Hannibal Lecter’s distinctive handwriting.

My dear Will,

You cannot imagine my surprise when I saw that you, of all people, had contacted the Tattler and given them an exclusive interview. I had thought that the Special Investigator inside of you would insist upon a very different course of action… however I guess that you have been through enough that your distrust of the Bureau’s ability to protect you is understandable.

I assume that Jack Crawford—or one of his minions—came to your home and requested that you serve as the bait in some sort of elaborate trap designed to lock me away again. I will also assume that your interview with the Tattler was your way of responding to Crawford’s request. Does this choice of path mean that you have finally come to terms with the fact that we are not so different after all? Or is this too much to hope for?

In any case, I have come to the conclusion that the world is a more interesting place with you in it. Because of this I have chosen to give you a choice in how the two of us proceeded from this point. I have no desire to be caged once again and I am willing to sacrifice a more interesting world for my continuing freedom.

As long as you grant me my freedom, I will return the favor. However if you should join Agent Starling and the other members of the FBI in searching for me the I will finish what was started in Baltimore so many years ago.

Hannibal Lecter M.D.

A small piece of notebook paper is also inside the envelope. The short letter written on this paper has the same handwriting as the outside envelope.

Jack—

I’m sorry. I wish I could help you catch him again, but I think I’ve got more than my fair share of scars and nightmares. I’m going to drop off the grid for a while, live off my boat and sail around.

—Will

While Clarice Starling feels sorry for Will Graham, she also feels disappointed… she’d always heard whispers about Graham, rumors which spoke of his skill in supernatural terms, as if he was psychic. She remembers reading about Will’s encounter with the Red Dragon, about how the man had lay bleeding—dying—on the ground and had still been able to get his (now ex) wife to shoot and kill Dolyarhyde.

It is disappointing to learn that this man—who had survived so much and done so much good—has decided to submit to one of the men he’d helped discover. The thought that Will Graham has tucked his tail beneath his legs and run away leaves a bad taste in Clarice’s mouth… and a question stuck on repeat in her mind… How can a man who runs away make the world a more interesting place for Hannibal?

As Clarice drives away from Will Graham’s home, she looks at her reflection in the rear view mirror and remembers how it had felt to be fumbling around in the darkness of the cellar—knowing that Buffalo Bill was somewhere waiting for her. Clarice remembers what it felt like to walk down the row of cells the first time she went to see Hannibal Lecter… and Clarice remembers the last time that she had spoke to the Cannibal face to face—how his finger had run over her hand when she’d raced to retrieve her file.

I won’t stop looking. Clarice Starling decides. I won’t give up like Will Graham has.

Chapter Text

022.    Love You Till The Very End   

Molly Foster is standing in the kitchen of her parent’s home, watching her son Willy play in the back yard when the call comes in from Jack Crawford, head of the FBI’s Behavioral Sciences Division. Molly has done her best to move on from her marriage to Will Graham… part of that process had included separating her life from the FIB and serial killers—both old and new, living and dead. However she had still followed the news when it came to Hannibal Lecter’s escape from captivity. So when Molly realizes that Jack Crawford is on the other end of the line, Molly expects to hear that Will is dead, that Lecter has finally finished what he started in Baltimore all those years ago.

Because of this Molly is caught entirely off guard when Crawford tells her that Will has dropped off the grid on purpose and that—according to Hannibal’s letter—her ex-husband isn’t on the Cannibal’s hit list. She politely but coldly thanks Crawford for calling and hangs up, her hand lingering on the phone as she stares off into space, thinking about Will Graham and the life they had shared.

A mutual friend had set the two of them up on a blind date—which had led to a whirlwind romance and a somewhat rushed wedding. The speed with which they had gone from man and woman to husband and wife was embarrassing and should have clued someone into the fact that the marriage was destined to end badly… but it hadn’t. All of Molly’s friends and family—Will had a distinct lack of both—had been shocked when the two had separated after  the Tooth Fairy’s attack.

When Molly and Will had started dating the blond haired man had still been working for the New Orleans Police Department as a Homicide Detective. The two had gotten married two weeks before Will had started working for the FBI. Five months later Will had been assigned to track down “the Minnesota Shrike.” It was on that case that Will had met Hannibal Lecter for the first time.

Will had shot Garret Hobbs and their marriage—which was less than a year old—began to fall apart… although no one would acknowledge that fact until several years had passed. Molly had actually considered leaving Will during the month that he was in the psychiatric ward of the Bethesda Naval Hospital. But before she could do more than think about getting a divorce Dr. Alan Bloom had asked Hannibal to talk with Will and Molly’s husband was back home.

The time between the Hospital and Hannibal attacking Will had been a good one—Will had been happy and Molly was overjoyed that her husband wasn’t on the trail of a serial killer. She was also happy that Will had found a friend in Hannibal Lecter—she’d thought the older man was a good influence on her husband. Because of Hannibal Molly hadn’t been overly concerned when Will started helping the FBI find the Chesapeake Ripper. Will had promised Molly that he would stay in the back of the pack, that he would let the police officers and FBI agents go charging in to capture the Ripper… As the hunt for the Chesapeake Ripper dragged on, Molly had seen less and less of her husband.

Then—in the middle of the night—a police officer had run Molly’s doorbell and informed her that both Hannibal and Will were lying severely wounded and unconscious in a nearby hospital. Molly had sat in a chair between the two men’s beds for almost two hours, worrying about both men, before he officers discovered Hannibal’s chamber of horrors and realized that Lecter was the Chesapeake Ripper. Not five seconds after Jack Crawford had broken that news to her and explained the most likely course of events—Will finding out, Hannibal trying to silence him, the two fighting for their lives—Molly had started making arrangements to move far, far away from Baltimore.

Molly wasn’t exactly proud of leaving Will alone in Baltimore during Lecter’s trial… but she hadn’t wanted to expose Willy to the press and the insanity of the trial. In Sugarloaf she’d been able to shelter Willy… and provide a soft nest for Will to climb into when the trial was over and Lecter was locked up.

From the outside Molly and Will’s relationship had seemed strengthened by all they had been through—even Molly had thought things were good. Sure, she’d hated Will’s scar, the lost look in her husband’s eyes, how silent Will had become after the trial and how hard it was to make him laugh or smile. Molly had even started hating Will when he let Jack Crawford persuade him to join the hunt for the Tooth Fairy… and even though she felt horrible about it, that hate had only grown when Lecter had given the Tooth Fairy her address and urged him to “save yourself, kill them all.”

Yet, despite all of this, Molly hadn’t made the decision to leave Will until the Tooth Fairy was lying dead in the hallway of their home, Willy was clinging to her like a limpet and the EMTs were loading her husband into an ambulance. She’d watched the ambulance race away and in her mind heard the wedding vows she’d exchanged with Will Graham all those years ago.

Do you take Will Graham as your lawful wedded husband, , to have and hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for rich or poor, in sickness and in health, till death do you part?

She had… without hesitating for a second. She’d said “I do” and intended to love Will until the very end—until one of them was taken from the other by death. But that was before the FBI, before Baltimore, before Hobbs, before the Tooth Fairy and, most importantly before Hannibal Lecter.

She walked away from Sugarloaf Key and never looked back. She’d started divorce proceedings before Will was conscious and never spoken another word to the man that she’d loved.

 “What was that call about?” Molly’s mother asks as she steps into the room. Molly moves away from the phone, towards the fridge and starts to make dinner for her parents and her son.

 “Just somebody I used to know.” Molly replies. “It wasn’t anything important…”

 

Author’s Note: The first chapter of Red Dragon gives Molly's full name as Molly Foster Graham… so due to the lack of any other possible maiden name for Molly, I’m going to use Foster.

Chapter Text

023.    Like An Art Piece

The Galleria dell’Accademia, is the home of the original David since 1873, six other Michelangelo sculptures and the original plaster for Giambolgona’s Rape of the Sabine Women. Located inside the Scuola Grade of Santa Maria della Carità, the Galleria also contains a rich collection of Venetian paintings, from Byzantine to the Renaissance. It is the second most-visited art gallery in Florence, second only to the Galleria degli Uffizi.

Most of the Galleria’s visitors are clumped together in large tour groups around their respective guides. The tourists’ gazes dart from their guide, to the work of art and down to their guidebooks as they shuffle through the halls of the Galleria to the next exhibit that their guides has chosen to talk about. The tourists—almost all of whom are dressed in t-shirts and shorts, a few of whom drag young children along on child leashes while others pull their attention away from guide and guide book for long enough to yell at their children to behave.

Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham have wandered away from the more popular works of art, heading towards the less traveled sections of the museum.  After spending a few months in the Caribbean, Hannibal and Will had moved to Italy by way of Brazil, where they had picked up their new identities. Hannibal is now Dr. Anthony Fell, while Will is William Norton. The two have settled in Florence, where Hannibal has managed to become the curator of the Palazzo Capponi—after the previous curator went missing. Whispers among those who knew the man claim that the old man had eloped with a woman, someone’s money or both. Hannibal is still only the temporary curator, but he has been allowed to live in the Palazzo Capponi. Will’s presence has raised far fewer eyebrows then Hannibal had thought it would.

Later today Hannibal will attend a meeting in the Salon of Lilies in the Palazzo Vecchio between the directors of the Uffizi Gallery and the Belle Arti Commission. His prospects are good—the scholars are impressed with his knowledge and only Sogliato is against his appointment, since the man wishes to give his nephew the job. But that is later—right now Hannibal and Will are enjoying the art of Florence and enjoying each other’s company.

Will is silent as they walk through the Galleria dell’Accademia, while Hannibal gives Will a far more informative tour then anything the tour guides are offering. Effortlessly Hannibal pulls information out of his memory palace, while in reality he is focused on his beautiful boy. Will is more splendid, more pleasing to the eye, then the works that surround the two men. Hannibal’s fingers long to pick up pencil and paper and sketch his beloved... this evening perhaps he will start a new work, perhaps of Will sleeping among the documents that practically fill the Palazzo Capponi.

More and more tour groups start to come into the Galleria, eventually driving Hannibal and Will to return to the Palazzo, where they can be alone and Hannibal can prepare for tonight’s meeting in the Salon of Lilies… both by reviewing some of the documents in the library and by spending time with Will Graham. As Will and Hannibal leave the Galleria they pay no attention to the various warning posters which are plastered around, warning couples about Il Mostro, the Monster of Florence—Italy’s own infamous serial killer.

 

Author’s Note: Here is the website for the Galleria dell’Accademia. All my information about the art there comes from the internet. I have never been to Italy, although I would love to go. It should be obvious that Hannibal and Will’s false identities are references to their actors.

Chapter Text

024.    My Heart Is Bleeding For You…  

It would be next to impossible for Hannibal Lecter miss the effect that the Monster of Florence has upon his loved boy. Will has a tendency to stare at the warning posters that the police have plastered all over Florence—the posters feature a large eye glancing from side to side and warnings in a half a dozen languages. In addition to staring at the posters, Will would buy any and every newspaper and magazine that mentioned Il Mostro, no matter how disreputable.

For seventeen years Il Mostro— the Monster of Florence—had preyed on lovers in Tuscany, creeping up on cars in lovers’ lanes and shooting both men and women with a small-caliber pistol. The Monster had taken trophies from his victims—except for a German homosexual couple that he’d apparently killed by mistake.

Eventually the Police had arrested a convicted murderer and rapist—Girolamo Tocca—who was convicted in a sensational trial which had catapulted Rinaldo Pazzi, the police officer who had found Il Mostro. Pazzi had enjoyed his time—spending time in the United States and basking in the attention of the FBI in general and the Behavioral Sciences Division specifically. Will had never met the man—Pazzi had been in the United States after Hannibal was imprisoned and before Will had agreed to help with the Tooth Fairy / Red Dragon case. However Crawford had told Will that the man was unbelievably arrogant, considering himself above everyone he met. As they say, pride goes before a fall. Everything quickly fell apart for Pazzi—Tocca’s conviction had been overthrown and Pazi had fallen out of favor. The posters had gone back up and the entire country seemed to be waiting for Il Mostro to strike again… and two weeks before Hannibal’s meeting with the directors of the Uffizi Gallery and the Belle Arti Comission, Hannibal had decided that he would secure a gift for his beloved boy.

Author’s Note: This is a Monster of Florence warning poster.

Chapter Text

025.    Release Of The Evils

A week before Hannibal’s meeting in the Salon of Lilies, Will Graham leaves Hannibal alone in the Palazzo Capponi to visit a small farmer’s market down the street—something which has become a habit of his ever since their move to Florence. When Will returns to the Palazzo he can instantly sense that something is different… there’s a strange stillness to the ancient structure and classical music is playing—but instead of the usual sounds of Hannibal playing pieces from memory on the piano or the clavier, the music is coming from a CD player. Intrigued, Will deposits his purchases from the Farmer’s Market in the kitchen and heads towards the source of the music—the main room of the Palazzo, which Will and Hannibal have been using as a sort of living room.

The furniture has been cleared away from the center of the room and a large plastic sheet has been laid down. On top of this sheet a single modern plastic chair has been placed and on this chair a perfectly ordinary man is sitting. His hands are handcuffed behind him and he is tied to the chair. In addition to his bindings there is a gag in the man’s mouth, but his eyes are uncovered and frantically dart around the room. Will slowly circles around the man, noting the wide array of weapons and tools laid out on a small folding table just out of arms reach of the bound man.

Hannibal is sitting on a small sofa, idly sipping a glass of wine. He is barefooted and his shirt sleeves have been rolled up. As Will finishes inspecting the scene Hannibal sets his wine glass down and slowly stands, gesturing to the bound man.

“Allow me to introduce you.” Hannibal says as he makes his way over to Will, pausing when they are standing side by side. “Will, this is the man they call Il Mostro.

Will glances between the bound man and Hannibal, a smirk slowly growing on his face. He stares at the bound man for a second, his eyes slowly losing focus as he all but dives into a part of his mind which—for years—he had tried to keep hidden away and deny. Will slowly blinks he reaches his conclusion and laughs once before he turns to kiss Hannibal. After a few seconds the two men part, each bearing  a smile that is more like the grin of a wild animal that has successfully stalked and is about to pounce on it’s prey.

“You give the best presents.” Will whispers as one of his hands grips Hannibal’s. Slowly his gaze drifts over to the tray of tools which Hannibal has laid out like women lay out cheese and bread selections at fancy parties. “So what should we use first?”

Author’s Note: The layout of the Palazzo Capponi is entirely made up.

Chapter Text

026.    Frozen Moment At The First Sight   

(Author’s Note: Italics in this chapter are used to indicate Italian is being spoken instead of English.)

Will Graham—or to use the name that the government and society knows him by, Will Norton—does not attend the meeting of the directors of the Uffizi Gallery and the Belle Arti Commission. That is not to say that he is not known to this group. It is not an open secret that Dr. Anthony Fell has a younger male lover—it is practically public knowledge.

Hannibal returns to the Palazzo Capponi, where Will is waiting for him and informs his beloved boy that he is to lecture, on Dante, to the Studiolo at the Palazzo Vecchio in three days in order to secure his appointment as the Curator of the Capponi Archives. Once he tells Will this, Hannibal proceeds to inform Will that Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi—the Detective assigned to find the previous Curator—plans to drop by and retrieve the missing man’s personal effects… Hannibal also tells Will of the suspicious that he senses in the Inspector.

Less than a day later Inspector Pazzi runs into Hannibal at the exposition of torture implements—a most unfortunate encounter. Pazzi sees Hannibal, but does not notice that Hannibal has seen him… and the Inspector also does not notice that Will is present. It is soon clear to both Hannibal and Will that Pazzi will most likely realize that Doctor Anthony Fell is in fact “Hannibal the Cannibal”.

The two hold off on making any concrete plans for the man… without needing to discuss anything with each other the two decide to wait for Pazzi to come to the Palazzo Capponi. However Hannibal does ensure that Will has a small but wickedly sharp knife which he can slip up his sleeve or down his boot—and that they have everything needed for a quick getaway.

Pazzi comes to the Palazzo Capponi roughly five hours after he sees Hannibal Lecter at the exposition… Will is the one who answers the door when the Inspector knocks. The man looks surprised to see Will—but there is not a single spark of recognition. In fact it seems to Will that Pazzi writes him off as unimportant and not connected to Hannibal’s criminal history—as if the Inspector believes

Can I help you?” Will asks, enjoying how surprised the Inspector is by his Italian. Will had picked up the language quite quickly and had only the slightest accent. He’d had several shopkeepers ask where in the country he came from—all had expected him to name some little town, perhaps near the border, and had been surprised when he said he was from California.

 “I’ve… I’ve come for the suitcases.” Pazzi stammers.

Oh! You’re with the Police.”

Rinaldo Pazzi follows Will in to the Palazzo. There is something awkward about the Inspector—the same awkwardness that all men who claim to be secure in their masculinity but feel threatened by a homosexual man who shows no shame with regards to their orientation. However there is also concern—concern for Will. Pazzi is actually somewhat worried about what Hannibal will do if he is caught in a corner and Will is present. Pazzi thinks Hannibal would harm him.

Will and Pazzi step into the largest room in the Palazzo, where he and Hannibal killed Il Mostro. Hannibal is sitting at a desk, examining several documents from the Capponi Library. There is a glass of wine in his hand and he is turned away from Will and the Inspector.

“You’re being lazy, making me answer the door.” Will teases as he steps up behind Hannibal, placing his hands on the older man’s shoulders. Pazzi remains by the doo, standing with his hands in his pockets and shifting from foot to foot. “He says he’s come to get the suitcases.”

Hannibal does not stand up as he turns to stare at the Inspector over the top of his reading glasses. He makes a final note and caps his pen before he stands up and turns to face Pazzi.

“Detective Pazzi, I didn’t expect you so soon.” Hannibal smiles as he flexes his hands slowly before he glances between Will and Pazzi.. “I don’t believe you’ve met—Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi, this is my… my assistant, Will Norton.

Nice to meet you.” Will smiles as Pazzi nods. Will smiles back before moving over to the suitcases that contain the previous curator’s effects. “Anthony should have told you to bring someone… the suitcases are pretty heavy.”

“Perhaps you will help me?” Pazzi asks, looking at Hannibal as he speaks. “Just down the stairs—I brought a car.”

Oh, I’ll help you with them.” Will offers, picking up the inventory of the suitcases’ contents and holding it out to the Inspector. “Here, this is an inventory of what’s in them.”

Inspector Pazzi can’t quite hide how disappointed he is that Hannibal isn’t helping him… it’s clear that the man wants to get a set of Hannibal’s finger prints.

Inspector—you are a Pazzi of the Pazzi family, are you not?” Hannibal asks and Pazzi nods as he inspects the inventory. “Wasn’t it at the Palazzo Vecchio that your ancestor was hanged?”

“Ancestor?” Will asks, frowning slightly—in reality Hannibal has already told Will this story.

“Francesco de Pazzi.” Hannibal explains. “He was thrown naked with a noose around his neck from a window… right alongside the Archbishop.”

“What was his crime?” Will asks, looking over at the modern-day Pazzi.

He was accused of killing Giuliano de Medici.” The Inspector replies.

Unjustly?

No. I don’t think so.” Pazzi slips the inventory into a pocket of his coat. “You know, I can’t remember the last time—before today—that someone has brought that up.”

“Anthony spends all of his time in this library—or with other documents.” Will sighs dramatically. Sometimes I think you forget I exist.”

“How could I forget you?” Hannibal smiles, enjoying the discomfort that his interaction with Will gives Pazzi. “Go help the Inspector with the suitcases.”

Fine. Inspector? I’ll help you take these down.” Will picks up two of the suitcases, leaving the other two—which are slightly smaller—for Pazzi to carry. “They must be as heavy as bodies!

It doesn’t take long for Will to load the suitcases into the car Pazzi brought and soon the Inspector is gone. Will locks the door behind him and heads back to where Hannibal is waiting for him—inside the Palazzo, the older man is leaning against the door to their bedroom, looking down the hall at a window which overlooks the river.

“He knows, doesn’t he?” Will asks as he leans against the door, pressing himself up against Hannibal’s side.

“You shouldn’t ask questions when you already know the answers.” Hannibal replies, wrapping an arm around Will’s shoulders.

“So why aren’t you down at the station getting fingerprinted?” Will asks.

“Because he isn’t interested in bringing me to justice.” Hannibal replies.

“He wants a reward—but didn’t the FBI offer a reward?”

“Indeed… but a private party is willing to pay one million dollars for my arrest—or my head and hands.”

“One million?” Will whistles. “And who is this ‘private party’?”

“Mason Verger. He is also willing to pay three million if I am delivered to him alive.” Hannibal explains. “I would almost be insulted if Pazzi didn’t try to sell me to Mason.”

“So when do you think he’ll make his move?” Will asks.

“Soon… Pazzi might try to act slowly and think things out—but the money will be too much of a temptation.”

“He’ll make a mistake.” Will turns around so that he is facing Hannibal.

“And then we’ll strike.” Hannibal practically purrs before he leans forward and claims Will’s lips in a fierce kiss.

Author’s Note: Again, the layout of the Palazzo Capponi is entirely made up. Will’s story about people thinking he was from the country is inspired by something which happened to my dad. At one point his French was so good that people thought he was French, instead of thinking he was an American.

Chapter Text

027.    I’m Souless Without You

 

Inside the Palazzo Vecchio, in the famous Salon of Lilies with it’s carved ceiling decorated with fleur-de-lys and it’s frescoes by Domenico Ghirlandaio, the man that the Studiolo knows by the name of Doctor Anthony Fell watches as workmen put down their restoration tools and start to prepare the room for the coming meeting of the directors of the Uffizi Gallery and the Belle Arti Commission.

Hannibal knows that his time as Dr. Fell—in Italy at least—will soon come to an end. No matter how favorably or unfavorably his lecture is received, Hannibal will not be able to continue working as the Curator of the Capponi Archives… but at the very least he can impress the Studiolo—a group who count the most renown medieval and Renaissance scholars in the world among their members.

As the workmen bring in a lectern and set up several rows of chairs, Hannibal glances out a nearby window, which has been left open to clear away the smell of pain, polish and gilding materials. Through that window he can see the Dumo and Giotto’s campanile… if he looks down at the piazza below, his view is blocked by the harsh light of upturned floodlights… but he knows that his beloved boy is somewhere below, most likely lurking in the shadows as he keeps watch for Pazzi and the men whom the Italian Police Officer has sold Hannibal to. As Hannibal gazes down at the floodlights he thinks of the gun Pazzi must have stashed somewhere on his body… and he thinks of the sharp knife that he gave the younger man and how beautiful Will Graham had looked when he was covered in Il Mostro’s blood.

Hannibal smiles one last time before he makes his way past the workmen who are still setting up chairs for the Studiolo to the table where a projector is set up and his reference books are neatly arranged in a small stack. As the first members of the Studiolo arrive, Hannibal Lecter flicks on the projector, which throws an image of a fresco by Domenico di Michelino which depicts Dante holding a copy of the Divine Comedy in front of the gates of Hell.

Inspector Pazzi arrives fashionably late—Hannibal has been lecturing for a half-hour by the time the man slips into the Salon, with Will following close behind. Hannibal sees the two enter out of the corner of his eye, but does not let Pazzi notice that he has been spotted… instead he keeps lecturing to the Studiolo.

In fact, avarice and hanging are linked in the medieval mind… this is the earliest known depiction of the crucifixion carved on an ivory box in Gaul about A.D. 400. It includes the death by hanging of Judas, his face upturned to the branch that suspends him. Here he is again on the doors of the Benevento Cathedral… this time with his bowels falling out.” Hannibal pauses and Pazzi’s cell phone rings, drawing annoyed glances from the members of the Studiolo. “Ahh, Commendatore Pazzi.

The Inspector mumbles an apology as he fumbles to answer his cell phone, only to hang up after only listening to whoever is on the other end of the line for a handful of seconds. Pazzi slips the phone back into his pocket and sits in an empty seat in the back row as Hannibal continues his lecture.

“And what does the anonymous Florentine suicide say in his torment at the end of the canto? ‘Io fei giabetto a me de le mie case.’” Pazzi almost jumps out of his skin when Hannibal places a hand on his shoulder as he recites from Dante’s Inferno. “‘And I—I made my own house my gallows.’ Thank you ladies and gentlemen for your kind attention.”

The men and women of the Studiolo applaud as Hannibal finishes his lecture. Pazzi lingers in the background, with Will hiding even further into the shadows as the scholars speak with Dr. Fell. When the scholars eventually start to say their goodbyes and leave, Pazzi moves forward, a smile on his face.

I’m not a scholar, but I think you’ve got the job!” Pazzi laughs as he shakes Hannibal’s hand. “Can I buy you a drink?

How kind of you, I’d like that.” Hannibal keeps his handshake loose. “I’ll be a minute gathering my things…

Out of the corner of his eye Hannibal can see Will checking the area, making sure that the three men are alone in the Salon of Lilies. While Hannibal pretends to fuss over his books, Pazzi pulls out his phone and calls someone—both Will and Hannibal can tell that he is not actually talking to his wife.

Allegra, I will be out a little later then I said, I’m taking Dr. Fell out for a drink.”

As Will watches in the shadows, with a smirk on his face, Hannibal wets a handkerchief with chloroform and moves the projector to a new slide. The harsh noise the machine makes as it transition from image to image drawing Pazzi’s attention to the drop cloth where sad image is being projected.

Oh, I should have shown them this one…” Hannibal sighs. “I can’t imagine how I missed it!

What is it?” Pazzi asks, taking a step closer to the screen.

It’s a rendering I found in the Capponi Library… can you make it out? There’s a name next to the figure.”

Pazzi searches the image, slowly moving closer and closer to the drop cloth, with Hannibal and Will following close behind him, although Will took care not to have his shadow thrown upon the drop cloth as Hannibal’s was.

When Rinaldo Pazzi has moved so that he is within arms reach of the projected image, Hannibal moves to the next slide—which shows an enlarged section of the previous picture. A man is hanging from the very building that Pazzi is currently inside of. He is naked, with a rope around his neck and his guts hanging out. Next to his battered and bloody body the name Francesco Pazzi is written. As he stares at the image of his ancestor, Pazzi freezes.

Even from his position halfway across the room Will can tell that Pazzi has realized that things have gone horribly—perhaps even fatally wrong.

It’s your ancestor Commendatore.” Hannibal explains as Pazzi starts to tremble. “Francesco de Pazzi—hanging beneath these very windows.

Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi—the man who almost caught Il Mostro and who had thought that he would survive selling Hannibal Lecter to Mason Verger—whimpers as he stares up at the image of his ancestor and a shudder races down his spine.

On a related subject I must confess to you—I’m giving very serious thought…” As Hannibal speaks the Inspector the man slowly shifts to look at Hannibal. “To eating your wife.

Before Pazzi can react Hannibal presses the handkerchief which he had previously soaked in chloroform to the Inspector’s face… within seconds the Italian Detective is unconscious in Hannibal’s arms, his hand stuck in the pocket where he’d stashed a small handgun with a silencer on the end. Will quickly steps forward, taking the unconscious man from her lover’s arms.

Neither man speaks as they walk over to the open window. Will quickly ties Pazzi to the hand truck that the restoration workers had used to move the podium for Hannibal’s lecture and fashions a gag out of a smaller drop cloth. As he works Hannibal uses a long electrical cord, which is attached to a floor polisher, to fashion a hangman’s noose, which he loops around Inspector Pazzi’s neck.

As the Italian starts to regain consciousness Hannibal reaches out and places a hand on Will’s shoulder. He squeezes gently before leaning in for a quick, but deep kiss. The two separate as Pazzi tries to scream but is stopped by his gag.

Can you hear me, Signore Pazzi?” Hannbial asks, drawing Pazzi’s gaze to the himself and Will. The Inspector stares at Will with horror and confusion as Hannibal inspects the restraints that his beloved boy created.

Take some deep breaths if you can.” Will suggests, a smirk growing on his face. “Clear your head.

Now, Signore Pazzi…” Hannibal hisses into the Inspector’s ear. “If you tell me what I need to know, then it might be convenient for me to leave Florence without my meal. So we’ll ask the questions and then we’ll see, all right?”

Hannibal steps back and Will wheels Pazzi backwards, moving the Inspector closer to the large window which looks out on the piazza below. Pazzi moves as much as he is able to—whipping his head from side to side, terror clear in his eyes.

So… was it Mason Verger you sold me to?” Hannibal asks as Will turns Pazzi so that he is facing the open window. The Inspector tries to speak through the gag, in an attempt to make Hannibal take it off and the serial killer sighs in disappointment.

Blink twice for yes and once for no.” Will hisses and Pazzi tries to move away from him, but succeeds only in flinching.

Was it Mason Verger you sold me to?” Hannibal asks again.

Rinaldo Pazzi blinks twice.

And are his men waiting for me outside?”

One blink and Will rolls his eyes at the man’s nerve… he wouldn’t have thought Pazzi had it in him to lie to Hannibal Lecter.

Was that a single blink?”Hannibal manages to look almost bored as he stares at the Inspector. “Are you confused Commendatore?”

“Please don’t be confused.” Will whispers, letting Pazzi sees the smirk on his face. “Because we may have to fillet Signora Pazzi after all.”

Pazzi closes his eyes for a second and then blinks twice.

“Have you told anyone in the Questura about me?”

One blink.

No, I thought not.” Hannibal smirked. “Have you told Allegra?”

Pazzi doesn’t look up as he blinks once, tears obvious in the corners of his eyes.

Very well… then here we go.” Hannibal smirks, but before he can move Pazzi closer to the window the Inspector’s phone rings. Will watches as his lover pulls the phone out and answers the call. “Pronto…” He says in a passable imitation of the Inspector’s voice—only to blink in surprise as he listens to whoever is on the other end of the line… however the look of surprise is soon replaced by a smile as his eyes find Will’s.

“Is his Clarice?” Hannibal asks as the smile turns into a smirk. “Well hello Clarice. I’m afraid that I have some bad news for you… you’ve caught me at an awkward moment. Please forgive me.”

Will can hear Clarice Starling calling out for Hannibal as his lover hangs up on her… and proceeds to push Pazzi out on to the balcony. Within seconds everything is prepared and Hannibal has pulled a Harpy knife out of his pocket as he turns towards Will Graham.

“What’s it to be?” Hannibal asks and the Inspector whimpers behind his gag. “Bowels in or bowels out?”

Will smiles wickedly and tilts his head towards the drop cloth, where the image of Pazzi’s murdered ancestor is still being projected. The ex-Special Investigator raises a single eyebrow and Hannibal takes a step away from Pazzi—so that he can offer the Harpy to his beloved boy.

“Arrivederci, Comendatore.” Will whispers as he steps forward, cutting into the Inspector’s stomach as Hannibal severs the restraints holding Pazzi to the hand truck and pushes him forward.

Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi goes tumbling over the railing of the balcony, falling down until the rope goes taunt and his neck snaps at the exact moment that his bowels fall out. Tourists scream as they stare up at the dead man, while Hannibal and Will take a moment to look down at their work, Hannibal offering Pazzi’s corpse a wave goodbye before the two men flee. Before they leave the Palazzo Vecchio another man is killed. This second man is obviously one of Mason Verger’s but he dies quickly, his blood pooling on the marble staris of the Palazzo… by the time his fellow goons have discovered him Will and Hannibal are racing towards the Piazza Bellosguardo on a motorcycle, their faces hidden beneath twin black helmets.

By the time the police have reached the Palazzo Vecchio Hannibal and Will are headed out of Florence, in a sleek black Jaguar, with Scarlatti playing on the radio as Hannibal drives. In a bag in the backseat reside two passports of the best Brazilian manufacture, identification, cash, bankbooks and keys. Hannibal has already arranged safe passage for the two of them to American… both Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham are looking forward to paying a visit to Mason Verger.

Roughly fourteen hours after Hannibal and Will kill Rinaldo Pazzi in Florence, Mason Verger lies in his family’s home, watching a tourist’s videotape which includes a few short minutes of the murder. Mason has watched the tape several dozen times before he realizes that someone is standing in the shadows behind Hannibal Lecter as the cannibal waves to the dead Inspector.

Within a hour of making this discovery Mason Verger has pulled together all the photographs of “Dr. Fell” that he can find—in a single photograph he sees a familiar face standing next to Hannibal Lecter as the serial killer crosses a busy street in Florence… Will Graham, the Special Investigator for the FBI who had caught Hannibal. The man whom Mason had insisted upon personally congratulating after Hannibal was locked away in of the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane… the only person who had ever asked if the dogs were really the ones to eat Mason’s face.

Chapter Text

028.    I Feel Safe With You By My Side

WARNING: TORTURE

Hannibal Lecter returns to the United States in the back row of a Boeing 747 bound for Detroit. He arrives sitting in the middle of a group of fifty-one tourists wearing yellow buttons which have a smiley-face and the words CAM-AM TOURS written in large red letters on them. Hannibal had purchased his seat from a Paris broker of last-minute cancellations. The man who should have been in Hannibal’s seat had returned to Canada in a box after his heart gave out when he was climbing the dome of St. Peter’s.

Will Graham returns to American on the same Boeing 747 as Hannibal—however the ex-Special Investigator arrives via the second row of Business Class. Will had offered to take Hannibal’s place among the Can-Am Tourists, but his older lover had declined—being a member of the tour group and using a Canadian Passport allowed him to be lost in the crowd at Immigration Services in the Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

Within a week of arriving in Detroit Hannibal has secured an large isolated house on the Chesapeake Bay. The house belongs to a German Lobbyist who has a somewhat disturbing love for the Greek Myth of Leda and the Swan. When Will and Hannibal arrive in the house they find more than a dozen paintings depicting Zeus’ rape of the young woman and many statues of all sizes. Before they even start unpacking Hannibal and Will find a spare room and start shoving both paintings and statues in that room. In most instances the absence of the artwork is not noticeable, save for one space where the largest of the paintings, with the most ornate frame, had hung above the fireplace in the house’s library.

Will had noticed Hannibal staring at the blank space several times as the two settled into the house. Later that day, while Hannibal is out getting plates and silverware, Will goes out and manages to find a painting of Zeus’ abduction of Ganymede. Hannibal doesn’t comment on the new painting when he returns to the house, choosing instead to simply press a kiss to Will’s cheek in greeting, as he always does. However when Will wakes up the next morning he finds that his hair—which is currently a little less then shoulder length—has a hair clip in it with two eagle feathers attached.

After procuring the Maryland house Hannibal begins making his preparations to deal with Mason Verger—after all, there are supplies to be obtained, information to be gathered and errands of all sorts to run. One of those errands takes Hannibal and Will to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Gun and Knife Show. The two pick up knives to replace those they were forced to leave behind in Florence—two Harpys, a straight serrated Spyderco, a drop-point skinner, a Spyderco Civilian, a game saw and a leather sap. While walking around the show Hannibal runs into a man named Donnie Barber. This meeting results in the purchase of a crossbow and two dozen arrows. A second meeting with Donnie Barber results in the Graham-Lecter fridge being stocked with several excellent cuts of meat—some from a deer, some from Mr. Barber himself.

While Hannibal prepares, Will spends his time in the Maryland home, reading and catching up on American TV, especially those shows that Hannibal dislikes. Then an article in one of the many newspapers the two subscribe gets the ex-Special Investigator thinking about Clarice Starling. Will has followed Starling’s exploits with a sort of amused disinterest ever since Hannibal’s escape. What catches his eye in Maryland is that the article, which is reporting on Starling’s efforts in the search for Hannibal Lecter, is that it mentions him. It’s one of the few instances of the press remembering that he exists. Will can’t count how many times Mason has been described as “…Hannibal’s only living victim…” or how often the articles have made it seem like there was no one in charge of the FBI’s investigation of the Chesapeake Ripper.

However the article in question had mentioned Will—even though it had described him as a male Clarice Starling, albeit one whose “…career had gone through a downward spiral after apprehending Hannibal Lecter and Francis Dolarhyde. (‘The Red Dragon’)” That was what had originally caught Will’s eye and gotten him thinking about FBI Agent Clarice Starling… what kept his attention was when Clarice was placed upon administrative leave by the Bureau. The move stank of crooked backroom dealings and an effort to let Mason and not the FBI find Hannibal.

Of course Hannibal also had an ongoing interest in Clarice Starling. After all the Agent had been—indirectly—responsible for Hannibal’s escape from the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Hannibal had sent Clarice several letters while he and Will were still in Italy—letters he knew would be instantly turned over to the FBI. When Hannibal notices Will’s interest in the young Agent, he asks for Will’s help in composing a new letter—one in honor of Clarice Starling’s approaching birthday. After writing the letter together, Hannibal picks up a bottle of Château d’Yquem from Starling’s birth year and suggests that Will deliver the bottle and the letter to Starling’s home—it hadn’t been too hard for Will to determine that the FBI does not consider Starling “in danger” and thus is not keeping a close eye on Clarice during her “administrative leave.”

It takes less than a minute to place Clarice Starling’s present in her mailbox… after making his delivery Will decides to make a quick stop before he heads back to the home he shares with Hannibal. While Will does honestly enjoy the gourmet meals that Hannibal prepares and is teaching Will how to prepare, the ex-Special Investigator does have the occasional craving for the sort of food that the older man wouldn’t be caught dead eating. Foods like Lucky Charms, Budweiser beer, American Cheese and, occasionally, Twinkies—the sort of food that you can’t buy in the upscale stores and boutiques where Hannibal Lecter does his shopping.

So, when Will Graham sees a normal, run of the mill American grocery store, he makes a split second decision to dart in and pick up a few of his guilty pleasures. Will has successfully located everything on his list but the American cheese. He’s currently standing in front of the supermarket’s cheese selection, trying to figure out how big a thing of American cheese he wants to buy when someone walking down the aisle stops and turns back towards him.

“Excuse me?” Will automatically turns towards the speaker—only to find himself face to face with Clarice Starling. “Are—are you Will Graham?”

“I’m sorry…” Will struggles to remain calm as he stares at the FBI Agent (or should that be “ex-FBI Agent”?) in feigned confusion, as if he’s attempting to remember who she is. “I don’t think we’ve met—”

“I’m Clarice Starling.” She replies, shifting awkwardly from foot to foot as she transfers her basket—loaf of white bread, a pack of 6 eggs, a bag of coffee and two chicken breasts—from one hand to the other. “Are you here to help the FBI?”

“No.” Will does not meet Clarice’s eyes as he moves his free hand to rest on top of his shirt, over the place where Hannibal’s scar lies. “Hannibal said that if I’d help the FBI he’d…”

“Finish what he started in Baltimore.” Clarice replies, quoting the fake letter that Hannibal had left behind, knowing that the FBI would eventually find it. “The FBI could put you in protective custody—”

“‘As long as you grant me my freedom, I will return the favor.’” Will quotes. “I guess I’m not as brave as you are Agent Starling… that’s why I never was an Agent.”

“Just Clarice—I’m on administrative leave.” Clarice replies, reaching over to place her free hand on Will’s shoulder in a comforting gesture. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have disturbed you.”

“I doubt that he’s watching Agent—Clarice. Besides, I’ll be gone in a few days.” Will reaches up and squeezes Clarice’s hand before stepping away. “It was… it was nice to meet you Clarice.”

“We’ll find him Will, I promise.”

Will offers Clarice a hesitant smile—fighting the strange, sudden urge to whisper “Have the lambs stopped screaming?” just low enough that Clarice would doubt herself, would wonder if she had heard Will speak or not. Before the urge can get away from him Will grabs the first box of American cheese slices that he sees heads towards the nearest checkout. He hopes that Clarice doesn’t suspect anything, that she has no reason to follow him. Will just wants to go home to Hannibal, he doesn’t want to have to concern himself with loosing Clarice without making it look like he’s trying to lose her.

Will offers Clarice a hesitant smile before he turns around and heads to the checkout, hoping that Clarice has found no reason to follow him—the last thing he wants right now is to have to stop Clarice from following him without making it look like he’s trying to lose her… just in case Will pays for his purchases with a card that is in his actual name.

Bags in hand, Will heads out into the parking lot. His car is parked close to the store itself and it takes almost no time for Will to reach it… but before he can fish his keys out of his pocket there is a sudden sharp pain in the side of his neck. It almost feels like he’s been stung by a bee—but it doesn’t sound right. Instead of a buzz all that Will heard a split second before the “sting” was a sort of thock, which reminds him of the sound the crossbow made when he and Hannibal shot Donnie Barber.

What is more troubling then the pain and the strange sound is how, quite suddenly and without any good reason, Will feels tipsy, as if he’s one drink away from a drink too many. Confused and growing more disoriented then he has any reason to feel, Will raises a hand to his neck and realizes that there is a dart imbedded in his skin… the sort of dart used on animals—the sort of dart that the weapons at the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane had fired.

Before Will can really process this information or think about making a move to defend himself, the drugs which must have been in the dart begin to take effect. Will’s hands go limp and his shopping bags fall to the ground as he slumps forward. Will ends up leaning against the side of his car—struggling to stay upright as the drug in the dart turns his limps into water.

“Hannibal…” Will whimpers as his vision dims before failing completely. He is only dimply aware of two men picking him up as a woman—who he assumes to be Clarice Starling—screams somewhere in the background, her voice sounding like she’s speaking underwater.

To Will it feels as if he only closes his eyes for a second or two—one moment his eyes are drifting closed in a parking lot of a supermarket and the next second his eyes snap open in a dark room. Will can tell that he’s lying on a dirt floor, one that has been covered in a thin layer of straw. His arms are bound behind his back with what feels like rope, while his feet are unbound. The floor that Will lies on is damp and before the second that Will wakes up he is shivering. While the room isn’t cold, at some point in the recent past Will has been drenched from head to toe and his jacket removed.

Slowly, Will manages to pull himself upright and shuffles blindly until he reaches one of the room’s walls, which he leans against as he takes stock of the situation and tries to peer into the darkness. Will is fairly certain that mud and straw are stuck all over his clothing, face and feet-which are bare. The rope which binds Will’s wrists is not tight enough to cut off circulation to his hands, and the rope is smooth enough that it doesn’t irritate his wrists—Will contemplates attempting to shift around to get his hands in front of him, but decides not to.

By shifting around, peering down and pressing against the wall Will manages to figure out that his watch is gone from his wrist, his Harpy knife is gone from his ankle and his pockets are empty. What is more distressing then the lack of knife, wallet, phone or weapon is that the simple gold ring which Hannibal had bought for Will on the cruise ship, the ring Will had worn every day and night since that moment, is missing.

Will isn’t sure how long he sits in the dark room, leaning against the wooden wall, shivering and wondering if the door will eventually open to reveal Hannibal, Mason Verger’s men or the FBI... Will could have been alone for days or simply a handful of seconds, there was no way for him to know.

Suddenly and without warning a door Will hadn’t been aware of is thrown open and Will finds himself recoiling violently from the light which burns his eyes, making him tear up and turn away from the source of the light. As he recoils Will overcompensates for the movement and ends up falling flat on his back, the sudden movement pushing on his bound arms and dragging a scream from the blond man. Before Will can force his eyes back open he hears footsteps and someone grabs Will’s right arms, which they use to drag him out of the darkness and into the light.

It’s warmer outside, although he dampness which remains in Will’s clothing still makes him shiver. As he is dragged Will manages to force his eyes open and looks up at the man who is dragging him along what seems to be the floor of a barn. The man has dark, Mediterranean skin and is extremely hairy. There is a cigarette almost falling out the corner of his mouth and he smells a little like a pigsty, but more like just plain old pigs. More importantly Will recognizes the man as one of Mason Verger’s thugs who had planed on helping Pazzi capture Hannibal. Professional Sardinian Kidnappers most likely—Hannibal had told Will as they drove away from Florence—the best are almost always run by families and Mason certainly would hire the best.

The man drags Willa round a corner and is joined by a younger, thinner man who does not have a cigarette and smells slightly less like swine. The two men do not talk as they walk side by side and the thin man does not move to or even offer to help drag Will. After a short while the three enter a large enclosed space which Will guesses is an indoor riding arena. The space is roughly circular, with two gates—one that the Sardinia dragged Will through and one which seems to lead out of the barn towards the woods. Inside the arena an old battered forklift sits almost perfectly in the middle of the ring of dirt.

The smoking Sardinian drops Will on his face at the foot of the forklift. Will does not struggle when his arms are untied—he doesn’t have a chance to. Before he can move—even just a little to get the blood flowing—each Sardinian grabs one of his arms and ties it to a thick piece of wood which rests on the forks of the forklift. Will tries to pull at his bindings, but before he can get much done the forklift starts to move. The forks rise upwards and Will struggles to stand so that his weight isn’t being supported by his wrists

When the forklift stops moving Will is left standing on the tips of his toes, struggling to support his weight so that he’s isn’t hanging from his arms—he probably looks like he’ been crucified on an incomplete cross. As Will struggles to stand the larger Sardinian moves in front of Will, toss his cigarette, which has burned down to a stub, to the ground as he pulls out a pack and offers one to the thin Sardinian, who appears to refuse.

With nothing better to do and nowhere to go—since the piece of wood is too heavy to move unless Will can stand on something more than his tip toes—Will watches the Sardinian light his new cigarette with a match before he moves so that he can lean against one of the wooden walls which make up the circular indoor area. When the man settles into a comfortable position his gaze returns to Will. He seems to size up the blond man for a second before he speaks

“Hannibal—he killed my brother.” The man’s English is heavily accented.

“Are you sure about that?” Will asks, his words coming out slightly slurred.

“Matteo went inside to find Pazzi. He didn’t come out. Before the police came we found Matteo dead.” The skinny Sardinian explains, his voice coming from somewhere behind Will, who can’t turn his head to search for the second man.

“So why invite me to this party?” Will asks. “Hannibal Lecter tried to kill me.”

“And yet you lived in Florence as his boy-toy.”

Will’s head snaps up and the back of his head bangs against the wooden beam which binds his hands. Sitting in a mechanized wheelchair with more medical devices than Will can count hanging off him is Mason Verger… which means that Will has to be in the barn on Muskrat Farm. The wheelchair which holds the only other person to survive an encounter with “Hannibal the Cannibal” is sitting in the open gate which Will had been dragged through, with a primly dressed butler standing by his side.

“Good evening Mr. Graham… long time no see.” Mason hisses.

“Mason Verger.” Will smirks despite the knowledge that any sane man would start begging for their life the moment that they saw what little remained of Mason’s face. “You’re even uglier then I remembered… so what does one of America’s wealthiest men want with an Ex-Special Investigator for the FBI?”

“What I want is Lecter. I have plans for him. Mason replies as the butler helps to maneuver the wheelchair closer to where Will hangs. The Sardinian who dragged Will from the dark room steps forward, moving between Mason and Will as the butler takes the smallest of steps away from Will. “But I need the Doctor. You are just an unexpected bonus… Comincio Carlo!

Carlo—the fatter Sardinian—steps forward and studies Will for a second, as if he’s a work of art. His mouth curves into a smile that reminds Will of the curve of the Harpy knife Hannibal gave him—and then Carlo takes his cigarette and presses it against Will’s arm. Will screams more in shock then pain—he can hear his skin sizzling and the stink of pig is suddenly overwhelmed by the smell of burning hair. Will bites on his lip to stop another scream from tumbling out as Carlo moves to a new spot on Will’s arm and presses the cigarette down, this time rotating it slightly. Carlo repeats the action several times in rapid succession as Will struggles against his bonds. As Will struggles, he catches sight of Mason Verger and wants to throw up. Mason is watching Will and the Sardinian intently, a look of what might be sadistic pleasure or sadistic arousal on his face.

Carlo notices that Will’s attention is elsewhere and before Will is aware that he isn’t torturing him with the cigarette he pulls back and punches Will square in the face, knocking Will’s head back against the wooden bar he is bound to. Before he can recover the man punches him in his stomach, knocking the air out of his lungs as what Will is certain in blood starts to drip from his nose.

Will closes his eyes as he tries to breathe—he can hear this dry almost cracking sound which he is fairly certain is the closest thing Mason can manage to a laugh. The Sardinians says something in Italian that Will can’t follow due to their accents and the pain… Will forces his eyes open and can’t stop himself from whimpering. The skinner Sardinian has moved to stand next to Carlo and is holding a taser.

Will tries to pull back as the second Sardinian steps forward and holds down the trigger on the stun gun before pressing it against Will’s stomach. The Ex-Special Investigator feels his body stiffen—he can’t move, can’t even twitch his fingers and yet he knows what is going on… and then it gets worse.

It’s almost like someone has manages to combine cramps, burns, cold and stabbing into one. It’s not the sort of pain that a cut produces, but it also isn’t the sort of pain that burning causes… Will can’t find the words to describe it—it’s just different, like all the pain receptors in his body, but especially those near the place where the taser is pressed against his skin. As the Sardinian continues to press the stun gun against Will’s stomach his legs and arms lock up, which forces his bound arms to support his body’s weight. So along with his muscles tearing themselves apart from the electricity, the muscles in his arms and back are being pulled at as they struggle to support Will’s weight.

Then, just as suddenly as it had started, everything stopped. Will’s legs, which had been locked by the electricity, turned to water and Will falls forward, the movement painfully jerking his arms and the muscles in his back. His bones ache and it almost feels like the Sardinians have punched him in the face again. Despite the pain that comes from not supporting himself and just hanging from the wooden beam, Will remains limp as he slowly gains the ability to whimper from the linger pain.

Again Will hears Mason Verger laugh at the same time that Carlo starts to press on the arm which he hasn’t pressed his cigarette on… it takes Will a second to realize that Carlo isn’t just pressing on his arm—he’s pressing his cigarette against Will’s arm.

The second that the Ex-Special Investigator realizes this the pain rushes forward and he howls—unable to contain his cries as tears run down his face. Carlo pulls the cigarette back and Will forces himself to open his eyes and look up at the Sardinian.

Your brother… what was his name?” Will asks in Italian.

Carlos and the other Sardinian—whom Will assumes is also a brother—pause for a second and glance at each other before Carlos speaks.

Matteo.”

He must smell worse then you by now—he shit when I cut him.” Will spits blood and saliva at Carlos face. It hits just as the Sardinian roars in anger and widely swings at Will, one fist catching him right in the face as the other hits his arm. Will’s right eye starts to puff up as what will no doubt be a spectacular bruise begins to form and it feels like his arm might have been dislocated by Carlos’ blow.

Will can tell that Mason is screaming something at the Sardinians—but he can’t make out the words over the pain which seems to be seeping into his very bones. It’s getting hard to see out of his right eye, but through his left Will can dimly see Mason’s butler moving away from the wheelchair. Will flinches when the man reaches forward—but the butler simply examines Will’s wounds and, after a second’s hesitation, quickly pops Will’s arm back into place as he yells something at the Sardinians. As the butler steps back the forklift lowers slightly, so that it is easier for Will to stand up and support his own weight. Slowly the sounds of the outside world begin to creep back in, to be heard and understood by Will.

“Place the call.” Mason hisses as his butler reaches into a pocket of his jacket and pulls out Will’s cell phone. Will coughs up blood as the butler dials a number and turns on speaker phone.

Each ring seems to go on for hours as Will swims back to something approaching a normal state of mind. As he swims up through the pain and confusion Will starts to struggle against his bonds, only to have Carlo shove his cigarette into the soft skin of his inner elbow. Will finds himself actually squealing in pain as the phone stops ringing—and without having to look, without having to ask or hear anyone answer the phone, Will Graham knows that Hannibal Lecter is on the other end of the line.

There is a moment of silence before Carlo grabs Will by his hair and runs a knife down Will’s arm—not deep enough to cause Will to bleed out, just deep enough for it to hurt and for Will to scream.

“Have I reached Dr. Lecter?” Mason Verger asks as Carlo runs the knife own Will’s arm again, right next to the wound he had just made. This time, even though Will tries to hold back his cries of pain, sobs slip out as tears wet his cheeks and are tinted red by the blood from his nose and the blood from his mouth.

“Mason Verger.” Hannibal replies, as Will tries and fails to stop himself from whimpering like a kicked puppy whose master has come to save it. Will tilts his head to one side in order to better see his torturers and captor.

Mason is managing a smile despite the lack of skin on his face… as Will watches Mason notices his gaze and gestures towards Carlos. The Sardinian responds by punching Will in the stomach before taking the taser from his brother. Will can’t stop himself from trying to back away from the man at the sight of the stun gun.

“Hannibal!” Will screams as Carlos presses the stun gun into Will’s stomach. Will’s mouth opens in a silent scream as he jerks uncontrollably. However what is perhaps worse than the pain of the stun gun is that Will can hear everything that Hannibal and Mason Verger are saying but cannot react or make a sound.

“I have been planning a lovely mean with you Hannibal.” Mason hisses into the phone, which his butler has brought closer to him. “However since your dear Will is here, I’ve been thinking about what changes I should make…”

Carlos pulls the taser away from Will, who goes limp and whimpers softly as Mason waits for a response from Hannibal. When the serial killer says nothing, the wheelchair bound man continues his threats.

“I was thinking perhaps I could make you a nice sausage—perhaps with some rocky mountain oysters on the side?”

Will can hear a soft growl from the other end of the phone, even as Mason Verger’s suggestion—and what he has already been through—cause him to dry heave. Carlos moves to cut Will again, but a gesture from Mason stops him.

“I’m coming Will.” Hannibal hisses. A half-second after Hannibal speaks Will hears the phone hang up and the steady drone of a dial tone before Mason’s butler hangs up. For a second there is silence in the Verger Barn and then Will Graham starts to laugh… and doesn’t stop.

Carlos, his brother, Mason Verger and his butler are soon staring at the bound man, who is laughing as if he has just heard the funniest joke in the entire world… suddenly Will shifts, pulling his head up and staring at the four men as best he can, through the blood, sweat and around his swollen eye.

“Hannibal’s going to kill you.” Will hisses before he starts laughing again, the force of his maniacal laugher actually shaking the wooden beam that he is tied to. Will doesn’t even stop laughing when Carlos presses the stun gun into his shoulder—the one which the Sardinian had dislocated not too long ago. Even as she shakes from the electricity, even as pain seems to seep into his bones, Will continues to laugh… when he goes limp after the stun gun is pulled away his laughter shakes his body. Will only stops laughing when the thin Sardinian punches him in the gut and only stays quiet because Mason Verger’s butler steps forward with a handkerchief which he presses against Will’s mouth. Will briefly smells chloroform before he is knocked out.

 

 

Author’s Note: “Leda and the Swan” is one of Zeus many lovers/sexual partners. Zeus seduced Leda in the guise of a swan. Here's her info and here’s the picture that was over the fireplace. Ganymede is another one of Zeus’ lovers. He was a Trojan prince whom was the “most beautiful of mortals” Zeus abducted him in the form of an eagle and made him the cup-bearer to the gods and immortal. Here’s his info and here is the painting that Will got a reproduction of.

“Rocky Mountain Oysters” are… well they’re deep-fried bull testicles. Yeah... People eat them.

Chapter Text

029.    I Will Never Hurt You 

As Clarice Starling makes her way to Muskrat Farm she wonders why Mason Verger’s men—or at least the men she believes work for Mason Verger—had kidnapped Will Graham. Looking back at the last week or so, Clarice is reasonably sure that the men have been following her… so had the original plan been to grab her? Or was it possible that Hannibal had also been following her and the plan had been to kidnap him? Clarice had, after all, found a letter from Hannibal and a bottle of very expensive wine in her mailbox when she’d returned home from the grocery store… so it was safe to assume that Hannibal was in the area.

So had Will Graham’s abduction been planned? Was it a last minute decision? And how did the ex-Special Investigator figure into the deadly game which Hannibal Lecter and Mason Verger were playing.

Clarice Starling can dimly see the Verger Home and the Farm’s Barn when she stops her car and climbs out, pulling the trunk release before she opens the door. If Hannibal is at Muskrat Farm then she can cuff him hand and foot and take him as far as the country jail—she has four sets of cuffs and enough rope to hot tie him. Hopefully Will Graham’s presence will make Hannibal more corporative—it was obvious from the letter Hannibal had sent Will after his escape that the serial killer cared for Will, in his own twisted way.

With her handgun out and ready to fire Clarice moves closer to the house and the barn—before she has to make the decision on which to head towards she hears someone scream in what she assumes is Italian. Clarice starts running towards the barn—where she can make out a male figure with his hands raised in surrender. By the time she is close enough to identify the man as Hannibal Lecter, the two men she saw kidnap Will Graham have stepped out of the barn.

The fatter kidnapper carries a rifle which is pointed at Hannibal. The taller, thinner kidnapper has what looks like a stun gun, which is also pointed at the Doctor. The three slowly move into the barn, the kidnappers practically walking backwards as they keep their eyes and weapons on the serial killer. Clarice follows them from the shadows, taking care not to be seen.

The kidnappers and Hannibal step into what looks like an indoor riding ring. The three stop next to an old forklift which is partially covered by a dirty blue plastic tarp while Clarice stays outside the riding ring, peering over the wooden fence at the three men.

The riding ring has two gates—the one which the kidnappers and Hannibal had walked through from the field outside and one that exits into the barn. On one side of the ring is a raised area sort of like an observation deck, where Mason Verger—who is sitting in a mechanical wheelchair with his butler, Cordell Doemling, at his side—is looking down at Hannibal and laughing as best he can. However Hannibal is not paying attention to Mason Verger. His attention is focused on the dirt floor next to the forklift, where there are dark spots where, Clarice realizes, blood has sunk into the dirt and dried.

Hylochoerus Meinertzhageni… ring any bells from High School biology Doctor?” Mason hisses at the man who had made him peel his face off and feed it to the dogs. Cordell shifts awkwardly as he stands at his employer’s side and looks down at the kidnappers and Hannibal with pure terror in his eyes. On the ground below Hannibal blinks once before slowly turning to look up at Mason Verger. He does not answer the man’s question.

“No? Well I could list it’s most conspicuous features, if that will help jog your memory.” Mason replies. “Three pairs of incisors. One pair of elongated canines. Three pairs of molars. Four pairs of pre-molars—upper and lower. A total of forty-four teeth.”

“Pigs Mason?” Hannibal asks, clearly amused. “Personally I would have I chosen to feed me to dogs.”

“The meal will begin with an hors d'oeuvre tartare… your feet.” Mason continues, as if he hadn’t heard Hannibal Lecter speak. “The main course—the rest of you—won’t be served till several hours later. But during that time you will be able to enjoy the effects of the consumed appetizer with a full-bodied saline drip... I guess that now you wish you’d fed the rest of me to the dogs.”

“Oh no Mason.” Hannibal replies, his lips twisting into a smile which sends shivers down Clarice’s spine. “I much prefer you the way you are.”

Mason gestures to Cordell, who flips a switch. Classical music begins to play on several speakers which are pointed out towards the fields… over the music Clarice can hear the sounds of what she guesses are pigs. She looks over at the field which is separated from the indoor arena by a wooden gate and almost gasps at the pigs she sees there—they’re huge, larger then she thought pigs could be and their grunts sound like they should belong to a fictional movie monster, not a pig. Hannibal does not look over at the pigs, which are beginning to press against the wooden gate which keeps them out of the arena. Instead he continues to look up at Mason.

“Where is he Mason?” Hannibal all but hisses as the pigs snouts can be seen underneath the gate, trying to force their way through.

Mason Verger doesn’t answer, he simply nods at the two kidnappers. The thin one puts the stun gun in a holster on his hip and pulls the tarp off the forklift—revealing Will Graham.

The ex-Special Investigator has been badly beaten—his face is swollen up on one side, there are cuts and what look like cigarette burns down his arms and a great deal of blood stains his face, chest and arms. Will’s wrists are tied to a thick piece of wood which rests on the forklift. The wood is raised up far enough that if Will were conscious he could support his weight on the tips of his feet, but since he is unconscious the blond man hangs lip, all of his weight supported by his wrists. It actually takes a second for Clarice to realize that Will is alive—she has to squint to see that his chest is moving as he breathes.

 “Oh, I guess I forgot to mention—the hors d'oeuvre tartare will include your eideteker.” Mason sneers as the skinnier of the two kidnappers moves forward and cuts the rope which ties Will’s wrists to the wooden beam. Will falls to the ground in front of Hannibal and does not move—he doesn’t even make a sound of pain when he hits the ground.

The gate which is keeping the pigs away from Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham is starting to cave in under the pressing of the swine—Will is lying unconscious on the ground, Hannibal is about to be tied to the forklift. Clarice can assume from Mason’s rant that the pigs have been trained to eat humans and can guess that Will’s open wounds and his blood will attract the herd… time is running out for her to make a move.

“FREEZE!” Clarice Starling shouts, stepping out of the shadows and aiming her gun at the kidnapper who holds the rifle. Everyone in the room ceases to move as all eyes—except for Hannibal’s—turn towards her. Even the pigs seem to stop pushing against the gate, at least for a few seconds.

“Agent Starling…” Mason sounds surprised, but he quickly recovers. “Or should I say Miss Starling?”

“The FBI is on it’s way Mr. Verger.” Clarice lies, keeping her eyes and her gun on the kidnapper with the rifle, who suddenly swings around to aim said rifle at her. After a second’s hesitation Clarice fires her gun—only to cry out in pain as a tranquilizer dart embeds itself in her right arm.

Clarice falls to her knees and watches as Hannibal lashes out at the skinner kidnapper—he has a knife in his hands and in a matter of seconds the second kidnapper is also lying on the ground bleeding. Both kidnappers look over at the gate, which is all but open and start to scream and try to move… Clarice almost does the same, but remembers that she is above the enclosed area, where the swine can’t reach her.

Her head starts to swim as Hannibal calmly walks over and picks up Will Graham, as if the blond man weighs nothing at all, as if he isn’t about to be surrounded by swine that have been taught to eat men…

The gate breaks, the pigs rush into the arena, heading straight for the bleeding kidnappers, who scream as they are surrounded. Up on his little observation deck Mason Verger is screaming as well—although not in pain.

“Cordell! Do something!” Mason commands. “Get the gun and shoot them!”

“Go into the pen?” Cordell whimpers, taking a step behind Mason’s wheelchair, as if it can somehow protect him from the pigs. “No! I’m staying out of this.”

“No! You’re involved is what you are… in all of it.” Mason hisses as Clarice starts to loose consciousness. “Do it!”

“Hey Cordell…” Hannibal smiles as he looks up at master and butler. “Why don’t you push him in? You can always say it was me.”

Clarice Starling passes out before she can see—or hear—if Cordell follows Hannibal Lecter’s advice. The last thing she hears are the screams of the kidnappers and the sounds of the pigs enjoying a rather large dinner. The last thing she sees is Hannibal Lecter, holding an unconscious Will Graham in his arms and looking up at the only other person to have survived him.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

It is like drifting upwards from the bottom of a deep lake. Slowly light enters and, even slower, sound begins to reach Will Graham’s ears. It takes a second for him to realize that he can open his eyes and a handful of seconds for Will to work up the strength.

When he does Will finds himself lying in the front passenger seat of a car—it’s night and he can’t focuses enough to tell what is outside the windows. He manages to roll his head to his left and smiles when he sees that Hannibal is the one driving the car. The pain that he can feel from the wounds his kidnappers inflicted upon him convinces Will that he is not dreaming.

Will reaches over and places his hand on Hannibal’s leg. It hurts to move and Will is pretty sure that he’s managed to reopen a wound or two because he can feel something damp on his arm. The moment Will places his hand on his lover’s leg, Hannibal covers it with his own and gently squeezes.

“I’m sorry.” Will whispers, his voice cracking on the second word.

“Oh Will… you have nothing to be sorry for.” Hannibal replies, bringing Will’s hand up and kissing it while his eyes never leave the road ahead. “I killed them for you Will.”

“I knew you would.” Will giggles and squeezes Hannibal’s hand. “Tell me how?”

“When you’re feeling better beloved.” Hannibal replies and Will shivers as he feels himself falling back into unconsciousness. “Sleep Will, you’re safe now.”

“Of course I am… you’re here.” Will replies, a smile on his face as the darkness drags him down once more.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Clarice Starling wakes to a dull throbbing in her shoulder. She reaches up and touches the spot where the dart embedded itself in her flesh and winces… it’s still sore, despite the fact that someone had dressed the wound.

Slowly she sits up and looks around—she’s not in a hospital. In fact she has no idea where she is—the room is elegantly decorated and she lies beneath linen sheets and a comforter, fully clothed. She’s still wearing what she’d worn to Muskrat Farm, with the only difference being the bandage on her arm and the fact that she’s unarmed. She can smell salt-water and, if she concentrates, can hear seagulls.

Clarice’s head hurts, but she struggles to remember how she got from Muskrat Farm to this bedroom—she remembers passing out and, now that she thinks about it, can remember a few flashes from the time inbetween.

Looking up at Hannibal Lecter as he carried her through the woods, something approaching concern on his face… A window and the roof of her car, seen from the inside. Trees passing by outside. Hearing Hannibal talking to someone nearby, the words lost in the haze of the dart’s drugs… Hannibal leaning over her as he bandaged her arm.

Realizing that she is once more in the presence of Hannibal Lecter, Clarice forces herself to stand up and staggers off down the hall, heading towards the soft sounds of conversation and soft classical music.

She passes by bedroom whose door is open. Peering inside she spots Will Graham, still unconscious, lying in the center of a large bed that is covered in red silk sheets. The ex-Special Investigator  has been placed on an IV of some sort and his wounds have been bandaged… Clarice pauses just long enough to grab his wrist and ensure he is alive before she continues down the hall. There is a phone next to a large clock, and although he line has been ripped out of the wall, she manages to reconnect it… Clarice falls over as she dials 911.

The operator tells her to stay where she is, to stay on the line. But Clarice can hear that Hannibal is downstairs, talking to someone—and she can see her handcuffs sitting on a nearby table. She grabs them before continuing down the hall and downstairs.

Clarice almost falls over when she sees Hannibal Lecter cooking something as he talks to Paul Krendler, who is seated at the end of a large dinning room table, a baseball cap on his head and a look on his face which suggests he has been drugged.

“Clarice, what are you doing up? You should be resting.” Hannibal has a smile on his face as he sautés something in a shiny pot.

There’s something wrong with Krendler—something beyond just drugs. There’s a drop of blood on his forehead near his baseball cap… and before she’d entered the dining room Clarice had seen some sort of saw in the kitchen, with blood on it.

“I’m hungry.” Clarice replies, mumbling slightly as she speaks.

Chapter Text

030.    It Hurt To See You Cry

For the third time in his life Will Graham wakes up in a hospital bed with a police officer guarding the door and a heart monitor beeping in his ear.

However this time there is no tube down his throat, his chest is not wrapped up in bandages which conceal new scars and his limbs are not tied down. Instead Will’s right arm is in a plain white cast and his left arm is wrapped up in so many bandages that it looks like a cast. In addition to his arms the right half of his face still feels swollen, although he can see out of his right eye, which is an improvement on the last time he was conscious. There’s an IV in his arm, which is probably the reason why his head is pleasantly fuzzy and his wounds aren’t hurting like they should.

Will manages to sit up and is wiggling his fingers experimentally when he police officer notices that he is awake—the young man stares at Will for a second with wide eyes before he mumbles something Will can’t make out and heads off, hopefully to find a nurse so that Will can fill out the appropriate paperwork and leave already.

The officer returns with a young blond nurse whose smile is a little too large for polite company, let alone a hospital room. The officer remains at the door of the hospital room as the nurse looks at Will’s bandages. As she does this Will finds himself looking at his right arm and trying to figure out how and when it was broken. He can remember the kidnappers dislocating his arm, but not breaking it… Will blinks and refocuses on the nurse as she explains what meds the doctors have put him on (a painkiller and an antibiotic) and starts talking about the “…possibility of post traumatic stress…”

Will manages to politely decline and request that the nurse get him the paperwork that he needs to leave the hospital. He’s pleasantly surprised to find that he won’t even have to go through the pain of leaving against medical advice—he’s banged up, but not badly enough that he needs to stay in the hospital. All that Will needs to do is sign a few things, grab two bottles of pills and head towards the nearest airport.

As the nurse leaves to get Will his paperwork and pills two of the people that Will absolutely doesn’t want to talk to walk into his room. Those two people are Jack Crawford and Clarice Starling—the Head of Behavioral Sciences and his new favorite Agent and media darling. Jack sits down in what looks like a very uncomfortable plastic chair by the side of Will’s bed, while Clarice stands awkwardly at his side. Jack has the same old battered briefcase that he was using back when Will worked for the FBI, while Clarice has the same expensive purse that she’d carried with her to interview Hannibal.

To the two members of the FBI, Will probably looks tired and vulnerable, with a healthy dose of fear mixed in. Of course Jack and Clarice (hopefully) think that Will fell unconscious after being tortured and has only now woken up... in reality  Will did wake up after he was tortured and before he arrived in the hospital. He’d actually woken up twice—once in the front passenger seat of Clarice Starling’s car and once in the bedroom of the Chesapeake Bay house that he had been sharing with Hannibal.

Will had woken up in his lover’s arms, wrapped in the red silk covers of their bed with classical music playing softly in the background… as far as Will was concerned, in that moment everything was right in the world.

“We don’t have long Will.” Hannibal had explained in a whisper, his arms tightening ever so slightly around the blond man. “Clarice is asleep a few doors down and I have a… a visitor downstairs.”

“Verger?” Will had asked, his voice slightly slurred by whatever drugs Hannibal had given him.

“I killed him for you Will.”

“I knew you would.” Will had laughed, a smile on her face which only grew when Hannibal had leaned over and kissed him gently.

“Starling is unconscious next door. When she wakes you will be unconscious and I will be downstairs. Clarice will summon the authorities and I will escape.” Hannibal explains, one hand gently running down Will’s side. “I will meet you in Sugarloaf as soon as possible.”

“You’re leaving?”

“Only for a little while Will.” Hannibal replied, gently taking a hold of Will’s left hand. “I’ll be gone just long enough to lay a trail away from you for the FBI to follow.”

“I’ll wait for you.” Will hand replied before slipping back into unconsciousness in Hannibal’s arms.

It seems like Hannibal’s plan—whatever it was—had worked. If it hadn’t then the first words out of Jack Crawford’s mouth would have been something along the lines of “We got him.”

Instead Jack doesn’t say anything to Will—he just stares at the ex-Special Agent who he hasn’t seen since Will was lying in a hospital bed recovering from being shot by Francis Dolarhyde… it doesn’t take long for Will to grow tired to waiting for Jack to speak, so he breaks the silence.

“I must have the worst luck of anyone in the world.” Will replies, breaking the silence and making Jack sit up a little straighter in his seat, which creaks as he moves.

“Or the best.” Jack Crawford replies. “You seem to have a habit of surviving psychopaths Will—Lecter, Dolarhyde… and Mason Verger.”

“So what happened?” Will asks, leaning back against the thin pillow the hospital bed has provided him with and the headboard of his hospital bed. “Why did Verger want me?”

“He wanted to kill Hannibal Lecter.” Clarice replies, crossing her arms in front of her chest as she speaks. “You were the bait.”

“Hannibal came to Muskrat Farm… to get me?” Will blinks as he pretends to process the information.

“Both Lecter and Agent Starling went to Muskrat Farm after the State Troopers failed to adequately search the property.” Jack sounds pissed, but strangely Will can’t tell who Crawford is annoyed with—it could be the State Troopers but it could just as easily be Hannibal, Clarice or even Mason Verger.

“Mr. Verger had you tied to a forklift. He was using you to taunt Doctor Lecter. I alerted Mr. Verger and the kidnappers to my presence and ordered them to stand down.” Clarice explains “We exchanged fire and I injured one of the kidnappers before he shot me with a tranquilizer dart. Before I passed out I witnessed Doctor Lecter disable the other kidnapper and remove Mason Verger from his wheelchair…”

“It appears that Hannibal fed Mason Verger and the two kidnappers—who we haven’t identified—to a group of pigs which were on the Farm.” Jack continues the tale for Clarice. The two look ill at the thought of men getting fed to pigs and Will does his best to pretend to feel horrible about the fate of his kidnappers and Mason Verger… in reality all Will wants to do is laugh. He had, after all, told the three men that Hannibal was going to kill him.

“While we were unconscious Hannibal took the two of us to a house on the Chesapeake Bay. Doctor Lecter also kidnapped Paul Krendler from the Justice Department. I regained consciousness and called the authorities. However before they arrived Doctor Lecter killed Mr. Krendler.” Clarice seems to be doing her best to look Will in the eye, but her eyes keep drifting down to his stomach, where the scar that Hannibal gave him is. “I tried to detain the Doctor, but he fled before the authorities arrived. He cut off his left hand in order to escape.”

“He cut off his hand?” Will doesn’t have to fake his shock.

“I had him handcuffed.” Clarice explains. “I thought that he was going to cut off my hand… but instead he cut off his own.”

Will doesn’t believe that for a second… but he doesn’t let Clarice Starling or Jack Crawford see his disbelief. To the two FBI Agents it probably looks like Will accepts the fact that Hannibal has chopped off his own hand instead of Clarice’s… and then, as the two watch, the fact that Hannibal Lecter is still at large dawns on Will Graham.

He retreats into a sort of shell shock, wrapping his left arm around his body as best he can and pulling his right arm as close to his body as the cast allows. The look on Will’s face is strikingly similar to a kicked puppy, while inside the ex-Special Investigator is gloating over how easily Jack and Starling are fooled by his charade.

“Will, I know that Hannibal threatened you…” Jack reaches forward and places his hand on top of Will’s right hand. The blond is grateful that Jack chose to touch his broken arm, because it disguises the fact that Will flinches slightly when Jack does this. “But we could really us your help—this may be our best chance to catch Lecter.”

“I agree, this is your best chance to catch Lecter.” Will replies, not looking Jack in the eye, choosing instead to focuses on his cast. “It can’t be that hard to find a one-handed man trying to leave the country.”

“Thank you Will. Look, I promise this time you’ll be in the back of the pack—”

“Your best chance Jack. Your best chance.” Will cuts Jack off. “You and Miss Starling are going to try and catch Hannibal. I am going to get some clothes and go back to my boat.”

Jack and Clarice stare at Will for a second in shocked silence.

“Will, I know what you’ve been thro—” Clarice takes a step forward as she speaks, only to go completely still and silent when Will glares at her.

“No you don’t Clarice.” Will all but growls at the young woman. “You met ‘Doctor Lecter’ after he had been exposed. You knew that you were talking to a monster—to a cannibal. I didn’t know that until he stabbed me in the stomach.”

“Will—Clarice didn’t mean to offend you.” Jack replies in his best ‘soothing’ voice, which grates on Will’s nerves like the Baltimore Symphony’s flutist must have grated on Hannibal’s nerves all those years ago.

“Jack… this is the third time that I’ve woken up in a hospital and all three times Hannibal Lecter has been the one responsible.” Will sighs, and wearily reaches up to rub at his temples with his left hand. “I’ve lost a wife, a son and the possibility of having kids of my own because of Lecter. So please Jack… just let me fade away again.”

Jack all but folds in upon himself—after all, the man (rightly or wrongly) holds himself responsible for pretty much everything that has happened to Will. Hannibal attacking Will in Baltimore? Jack’s fault. The Red Dragon attacks Will and his family? Jack’s fault. Will can almost see Jack writing “Mason Verger tortures Will” to the list of things he’s responsible for.

Before Jack has to think up something to say the overly happy nurse re-enters the room with the paperwork Will requested in her hands, along with two tall bottles of pills and instructions on how often they should be taken. While Will is trying to sign the papers with his left hand Jack mumbles some apology and farewell which Will doesn’t even try to understand and slips away… while Clarice remains where she is. The young FBI Agent doesn’t speak until the Nurse has left to get Will some clothing.

“I’m going to find him.” Clarice informs Will the second that the two of them are alone in the hospital room. “I don’t care how long it takes.”

“I hope you don’t take this the wrong way Agent Starling… but I hope you’re lucky enough that you never see Hannibal again.”

“Aren’t you going to wish me luck?” Clarice asks.

“Goodbye… and good luck.” Will sighs.

Clarice Starling stares at him for a second before she turns around and leaves Will alone in his hospital room. Will knows that Clarice won’t take his advice… he wonders if Agent Starling will actually be able to find Hannibal, or if Hannibal will be the one to find her.

The too happy nurse manages to get a pair of sweatpants and a shirt from… well Will isn’t exactly sure where she gets them, he’s just grateful she does. Thanks to the clothing and Jack Crawford’s guilt, Will is out of the hospital and on a plane headed for Florida less than a half-hour after talking with Jack and Starling.

By the time that the sun is setting in Washington D.C. Will is on Sugarloaf Keys, lying on his bed and watching crappy TV. Will had bought food on the way to the home he’d once shared with Molly, so he doesn’t leave the house for a week… the drugs the hospital gave him are strong, so he isn’t bothered by the quality of the TV he’s sorta watching or the itching that seems to be a side-effect of getting a cast. On the other hand the drugs make it hard to change the bandages on his left arm—a task which would be hard to do sober, since Will is right handed and has a broken right arm.

Will know that Hannibal has returned the moment he opens his eyes. First of all, Will had gone to sleep watching television on the couch downstairs, but he wakes up in his bed upstairs. In addition there is a glass of water on the bedside table, along with his next round of pills in a small bowl. Will sits up so that he can take his pills and Hannibal silently walks into the room, carrying a silver try which has various medical supplies and a large covered plate upon it. However the first thing that Will notices is that his older lover still has both of his hands.

“Clarice Starling swore that you’d cut off your hand.” Will remarks as he finishes off the water and makes a face at the bitter taste the pills leave in his mouth. Hannibal laughs as he places the tray on the bedside table and sits on Will’s right side.

“She closed her eyes and started screaming the second I picked up the cleaver.” Hannibal explains as he gently runs his hand over Will’s cast. “She didn’t even realize the handcuffs weren’t tight enough to prevent men from just slipping my hand through them.”

Will laughs as he leans up against Hannibal, who kisses him gently. As his laughter dies down naturally Will remembers the tray that Hannibal had brought in.

“Breakfast in bed?” He asks, looking up at Hannibal. “Did you make me something special?”

“Dinner actually.” Hannibal replies. “I’m afraid that, while delicious, they are technically leftovers. Paul Krendler’s prefrontal lobe with brioche crumbs and black truffles… which you can taste after I change the bandages on your left arm.”

“Change away.” Will sighs theatrically as Hannibal directs him to lie back on the bed and begins to gently remove the soiled bandages. “So where are we going next?”

“Japan.” Hannibal replies as he gently cleans the burns and cuts on Will’s arm. “I’ve arranged for us to take a cruise down to Brazil, where we can board an airplane to Toyko.”

“What about Clarice?” Will asks as Hannibal washes his hands and takes out a clean roll of bandages.

“Mason’s death will keep her occupied for some time—and I will be surprised if she manages to actually track me down…” Hannibal muses. “However we will deal with Agent Starling when it becomes necessary to do so.”

“Shiny.” Will finds himself actually giggling as Hannibal finishes bandaging up his arm.

“Enjoying your drugs Will?” Hannibal asks with a smile on his face as he secures the last bandage.

“I missed you.” Will whispers, pressing himself up against his older lover, who instantly opens his arms to embrace the blond man. “Besides, I didn’t just get tortured, I had to look at Mason Verger’s face. I think I’ve earned the right to those drugs.”

Author’s Note: There are going to be 10 “Bonus” Chapters which will take place at various points before, during and after 30 Nights. These chapters will be posted to the master chapter list on livejournal and linked to the story as a sequel, called 10 Days, on Archive Of Our Own.