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Heart, Meet Bullet

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HEART, MEET BULLET
chapter one

The evening was a quiet one, and Dr. Hannibal Lecter enjoyed the last sputtering of the fire in its hearth accompanied by a lovely sifter of brandy. Its slightly orange citrus tones were the perfect accompaniment to the banker's human fois gras, his liver suitably fatty and deliciously tender on the tongue after a gentle sear. He was in the mood for Beethoven this evening, and he closed his eyes as a recording of his Piano Concerto no. 4 in G minor competed with Hannibal's memory of a similar, superior performance he had enjoyed in Milan.

The fois gras had been enjoyed with a fennel leaf and winter greens salad and a light cranberry infused dressing, a bit of tart to cut the richness of the fat. The small quail's egg hiding near the salad was symbolic of the fleeting attention we often give to our health. Though the grossly obese provided precious delicacies, Hannibal was reminded not to make a habit of them. Still, waste not want not. The trimmed fat would make excellent larder and well marbled roasts from the thighs a suitably tender meat.

He swirled the brandy in his glass and wondered what his Will was up to. No doubt laying in bed, sweating through another nightmare of black stags and mysterious Pan like creatures roaming the woods. He wondered how often he himself featured in Will's imaginings, for he certainly took up a considerable amount of Hannibal's own. A bit too much, perhaps.

When he sat here, alone, with his brandy, he was often forced to be more honest with himself, an affliction that he was not keen to examine too closely. From the moment he'd met him, with his strange, fantastical abilities, a man of pure empathy who was intelligent enough to find his way into Hannibal's mind and start wandering its dark corridors, he'd been transfixed. Such uniqueness had to be carefully handled, the moulding of it as delicate a work as thinly spun glass. If he was to fully bring Will Graham into his universe he would need to pull the strings with deft clarity, every small step in his development as a true partner carefully plucked into a quiet symphony. Obsession was not only to be encouraged but was necessary. No detail was to be overlooked.

And how could there be, with memories of the man so keenly placed in the very foyer of his memory palace, every strand of wavy, dark curls framing his nervous face, where brilliant blue eyes shone out in fragile need. The beauty of his suffering had played upon Hannibal's more aesthetic sensibilities, and then to discover he was as articulate as he was lovely was a precious gift he was not about to waste.

He contemplated the fire as he thought about his obese offal in the cellar, wondering what shape his massive bulk could be twisted into. He had considered making him a metaphor of excessive wants, stuffing his body cavity with fast food take out boxes and chip bags, but the concept was a tad hypocritical. He did not deny himself anything, and his current indulgence in his obsession with Will Graham was a gluttony that was parallel to his victim's love for greasy food.

His cell phone buzzed and he took it out of his side jacket pocket, annoyed by the intrusion into his reverie. A fairly long, involved text from Jack Crawford, bidding he come to Quantico in the morning with Will to go over that last cadaver again, this time as a careful comparison and contrast to what they'd found in relation to the Hobbs murders. Hannibal checked his watch, the late hour surprising him. Jack never slept either if the hands reading one a.m. were any indication. He sighed, noting the text had been sent to Will and Alana and whoever else Jack deemed necessary to include in his own brand of obsession, which currently revolved around catching the Chesapeake Ripper. He would destroy everything and everyone in his path to close the case, Hannibal knew, and he regretted that Will Graham was set to become a part of Jack's fallout.

He would shield him from it best he could, but Jack was a persistent man. He was sure to damage the manipulations Hannibal would painstakingly put into place. Best to tread carefully.

As he thought on Will Graham and the noose that was being so tightly closed around his tender, sweet neck, Hannibal was reminded of a painting by Dutch painter Dirck deBray, 'Still Life with a Dead Rabbit and Falcon'. Not one of his favourite pieces, but significant in its depiction of a falcon sitting proudly beside its prey. There was no doubt why Will Graham figured in his mind in reflecting upon this work, for the subdued yet proud image of the rabbit's corpse being watched over by the chained hawk was a startling parallel. Predator and prey held in captivity to one another both in life and death.

Checking his watch again as though willing time to move backwards instead of forwards, Hannibal conceded it would be best to retire for the evening, and leave his artistic endeavour for another night. He had to properly ruminate upon it, for he had decided the man's large carcass would be an excellent repository for holding the growing interest in the FBI profiler who was nudging formerly stagnant parts of his heart.

Hannibal did not fully realize he was sculpting a love letter, however. As a madman and a monster, he did not have the perception needed to recognize that interest and love are eventually tightly braided together.

As he stood by his fire, ready to down the last of his brandy and retire to bed, his focus was broken by the ringing of his doorbell. Frowning, Hannibal tensed, going through a mental checklist of a what seemed to be a never ending scroll of possible enemies who would be more than keen to snuff him out.

He kept his brandy glass in his hand. It would be useful to smash against a potential enemy's face should they be stupid enough to attempt to harm him. The jagged shards could slice through a jugular given enough force.

He opened the door and, in an act that is highly unbecoming for a quality monster such as Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the brandy glass fell from his grasp and onto the front step, smashing into a thousand pieces. There were many, many people Dr. Lecter imagined would haunt his door at such an unwelcome hour.

He did not expect it would be himself.

~*~

His 'guest' plunked his suitcase in front of the dwindling fire and used it as a footstool as he draped himself in one of the two winged back chairs Hannibal had placed before the fireplace. He smiled with easy charm as he pulled a package of cigarettes from the pocket of his hideously ugly bowling shirt (were those prints of 'dachshunds' on its surface?) and shook out one of the cancer sticks. He slid it between his lips, quite an effort since his shit eating grin was taking over more than half of his face.

As he lit his cigarette, Hannibal said, "I don't smoke and I would prefer you didn't in my home."

His double, who Hannibal learned was named Nigel, merely sat back in his chair, ignoring the request. "You have a fireplace, what more harm can I do? You think burning fucking pine logs is some kind of organic bullshit? You've been sucking on nature's poison all night and you're going to deny me a smoke? Tell you what, I'll put out the fucking cigarette." He butted it out on the arm of Hannibal's chair, burning a thick hole in it. "There. Now you can get me a big glass of what you are drinking because you are such a goddamned amazing fucking host."

"My twin," Hannibal said, doing what he could to make what Nigel had told him cement into reality. It was a hard sell and Hannibal wanted to make sure the story he was being told held up to his more exacting scrutiny. "Tell me again how it is possible you exist without my ever having any knowledge of you. For it is a strange thing that you show up on my doorstep at an unpleasant hour of the night, seeking refuge and family when you have had no interest in doing so until now."

Seeing that Hannibal made no move to get him a drink, Nigel decided to help himself. Without getting out of his chair he sloppily grabbed the decanter of brandy and captured an empty tumbler between two fingers. He poured himself a generous amount and then set the decanter on the floor beside his suitcase. He swirled it in the exact manner Hannibal had not an hour earlier, his mannerisms a bizarre pantomime of his own movements. "As you know, father was an asshole."

"I barely knew him," Hannibal said, shrugging. "Mischa and I were raised by nannies." He thought back to the few times he had interacted with the man before his untimely death when Hannibal was still a child and remembered a stern, miserable disciplinarian whose love was solely for hunting and the nobility of their family line. Hannibal's maroon gaze turned towards the dying fire in unreadable concentration. "However, yes, he was an asshole."

"He was used to having enemies, and I'm sure he knew exactly what would eventually happen to his happy home. I am well aware of that bit of history, dear brother. An unfortunate and bloody end for the descendents of the house of Lecter, but then, you managed to escape its destiny and I...Well, I was the result of our wonderful father's adoration for family lineage. He shipped me off when I was a baby to his cunt mistress in Romania and left me there. He must have been so happy to know his prick made the perfect insurance policy. Of course, when he died all the funds went with him and then to you, his supposed last living relative. Fucking jackass left his cunt mistress to raise me with nothing, and she didn't do a good job. No fucking father, no fucking mother, some kind of sad story, am I right?"

"If you are looking for money what amount are we talking about?" Hannibal said, his eyes never leaving the face of his twin as they narrowed him into their scrutiny. He didn't like the way Nigel laughed at the suggestion, the brandy gulped with ugly wanton pleasure rather than with appreciative sips. "If who you are is genuine, I have no qualms with sharing what is left of the family fortune. However, I warn you, if you try to take more than is your fair share, I will fight you and it will end messily."

"I don't doubt it would," Nigel laughed, his grin filled with a mirth Hannibal didn't understand. He knocked back more brandy and followed it with yet another full glass. The decanter was diminishing by the minute. "I'm not here for money, dear brother. I don't need a fucking dime, I have enough cash to get me and the next four generations through the next hundred years. Father's old, crusty dimes mean fuck all to me and I hope he died with wads of our family fortune shoved up his miserable ass. No, I'm here for something far more important than money, dear brother." He downed the brandy in one gulp, and set the glass down beside the near empty decanter on the floor. "I'm here for sanctuary."

"Sanctuary," Hannibal repeated. He licked his lips and wondered what it would be like to eat a portion of himself. If Nigel was his identical twin, as he so clearly seemed to be, making him a part of his next meal would be the ultimate act of narcissism. Will would probably find the consumption a fascinating aspect of the Chesapeake Ripper's personality. Repulsed first, of course, but inevitably, the fascination would prevail.

"Let's just say I've run into some trouble with some former business associates and I don't want them fucking with my retirement."

"Are you in the habit of making these kinds of enemies?"

"Only when they try to fuck me over. Loyalty only goes so far when you're a free agent anyway, and it's not like I have any close ties to any of them. Not like here, am I right, dear brother? Business is war, fighting dirty is part of the package. But family, there's the difference. Family will fuck you personally and say it's for your own good."

Hannibal frowned at this. "If that is how you feel what are you doing here? I am more than willing to turn on you and throw you to whatever dog it is that is salivating for your blood."

"Ahhh, there it is..." Nigel tapped the side of his head with a long finger, his not so pleasant grin mocking Hannibal's threat. "That good old Lecter bitchiness. I was wondering when it was going to show up, your mouth is so clean its like you eat a bar of soap every morning. You must shit bubbles." Nigel's crooked grin was grating on Hannibal's last nerve. "You see, the thing is, dear brother, you may not have known about me, but I have known about you for a very, very long time."

"How fascinating. Your interest in family history is quite impressive as I have had no inkling of you. I wonder why that is. Perhaps our asshole father thought this would be a good way to divide and conquer within his own family. Hoping for a fight to the death over the family jewels, as it were. Or for title."

"I told you I don't give a shit about any of that."

"Then please, speak plainly. You have known of me for quite some time and yet you sit before me a complete stranger. You claim to want sanctuary and thus the concept of family is only something that is to be used when it is convenient for you. Why, then, should I help you, or even recognize you as a brother when you have offered no extension of yourself to me, even though you knew of my existence." Hannibal's lip curled as he looked on the street rat masquerading as his blood in the chair beside him. "Strangers we have been and strangers we shall remain. Out of courtesy I will allow you to spend the night, but first thing in the morning I want you out of my house and never to darken my doors again or I will finish you."

Nigel's eyes opened wide and he openly laughed at Hannibal's denial of him, the very real threat he offered taken in ignorant stride.

"It is not amusing, I am perfectly serious."

"I am sure you are, dear brother, I don't doubt it one bit."

"Stop calling me your brother."

"Why the fuck wouldn't I? Just because you don't like me doesn't mean we didn't slide out of the same cunt."

The black gaze Hannibal gave him at this gave Nigel pause, and he backed down in his bravado slightly. "I'm not meaning disrespect, if that's how you take it. I got denied an inheritance, sure, but I don't feel any ill will towards you for it. Shit happens, and like I said, I've got my own legacy to take care of. Funny thing, legacies...They can start early or late. In your case, I know it started way before you moved to America and settled up here in Baltimore. I knew you in Italy, dear brother, but it wasn't our father's name that they shouted in fear and respect. People had a different title for you there. Over cups of grappa and in between the breasts of whores they'd whisper your name. *Il Monstro*."

Calming himself into the most blithe version of his person suit he could, Hannibal regarded Nigel with the all the slick concentration of an art historian studying a velvet clown painting. How very vile he was, this creature who dared to share every facet of his DNA in mirrored glory. Classless and moronic, to say Nigel was a disappointment was an understatement. Still, he was cunning and had a certain degree of finely tuned street smarts that had preserved him within a business world that was definitely part of the fringe element. He wondered what it was that kept Nigel in riches. Drugs? Money laundering? Human trafficking? Probably a combination of all three, though Hannibal doubted he was ever a true kingpin. More like a right hand man, a sitting dog who would be ordered to bark.

Murder for hire sounded about right. How distasteful.

"See, I used to divide my time in those days between Romania and Italy, a bit of side business that was fairly profitable. And there were a few times where I ran into some strange scenes, one of the most memorable being when I swore I saw myself arranging the corpses of a young couple within a wooden cart, surrounding their bodies with flowers. Italy is such a fucking beautiful country, isn't it? Not so black and dark like Romania, full of fucking corpses even when you can't see them. But Italy, ah, que bella! Even the dead celebrate the fact they are there and love that ends in murder and blood is just a pretty little fresco waiting to happen."

"I do remember hearing about those murders," Hannibal said, admitting and denying nothing. "How strange that you would believe you committed them."

"Oh, I did no such fucking thing, I'm not that kind of a sick fuck. Might be more the kind you are, though."

"That was a long time ago as I recall." Hannibal's words were dark. "Perhaps your memory is imperfect when recalling the details."

"I remember the details just fine. But maybe you're right. Maybe things get cloudy sometimes. It was such a strange thing to see, I simply had to take some pictures. I was a bit of a photographer in those days, mostly of tits and assholes, no accounting for taste, I know. People buy anything. And there it was, me arranging two dead people. Imagine my surprise. But fuck me, if I didn't have the best alibi you can imagine. I'd just been arrested for assault, a charge that didn't stick, of course. The cop that dumped me off was this little cocksucker keener who wrote up a nice fat report. So there was no time for me to do the deed, you see, and that was the day I learned the value of the occasional paper trail."

Hannibal cocked his head to one side, taking in this information and processing it in meticulous calculation. Nigel had known, for quite some time, that Hannibal was the feared serial killer Il Monstro that had terrorized Florence, a place where he had added his own notes of incredible beauty. He hadn't gone to the police, probably because he was in trouble already, but the photos were problematic. All this time and he could have been outed and thrown into prison but his brother had refrained. This blackmail was rather tacked on, almost as an afterthought, and Hannibal's curiosity was dangerously awoken. Why?

He heard his front door swing open and both Hannibal and Nigel rose in unison, ready to confront a new threat. But it was with both surprise and amusement that Hannibal saw it was only his dear Will, looking confused and sick, an expression that delightfully increased tenfold as he looked from Hannibal to Nigel and back again, his head shaking as he broke eye contact and began to back away.

"I...I'm sorry, I just..." His mouth twisted into a grim line. "I know it's insanely late, I couldn't sleep and I know you keep late hours and I wasn't thinking, I know it takes two hours to drive out here." He ran a shaking palm through his tangled dark mess of curls and backed away slightly from the dual image of Hannibal. "Alana..She kissed me. Then she said she didn't want a relationship because I'm too unstable and...Jesus Christ, Hannibal, why are there two of you?"

"Rest assured, Will, there is only one of me." With a tense smile he guided Will into his home, easing his jacket off of his shoulders and bidding him to have a seat before the now dead fire. "This is my brother, Nigel. He is visiting me from Romania." Hannibal gave him a terse smile. "He will not be staying for long."

"You never said you had a twin brother," Will said, and Hannibal did not like the accusatory tone creeping into Will's voice.

"As I recall, you have never been very keen to talk about family in our sessions and I tend to be of the same mind. Please, have a seat."

"No introductions, then?" Nigel stood aside, allowing Will his own seat out of exaggerated courtesy. He held out his hand, and Will took it, much to Hannibal's distress. The less he knew about his estranged brother the better.

"How very rude of me. Apologies. This is Will Graham, he is a profiler from the FBI and my patient."

"I am not your patient, we have 'conversations'," Will reminded him. He pressed shaking fingertips to his forehead and looked as though he wanted to shrink into nothing in Hannibal's chair. "I shouldn't have come here."

"Nonsense, Will. My door is always open for you. I would offer you brandy but it seems there is none left." He plucked the empty decanter and glass from the floor and put them back onto the side table that was in fact an antique mini-bar. "Perhaps a glass of port, to settle your nerves."

He turned with the offering to find, much to his dismay, that his brother had absconded his seat and was now directly across from Will. Nigel looked at the nervous man with a mixture of blatant predator leering and curiosity.

Never a good combination in the Lecter mindset, Hannibal mused.

"Y-Your Hannibal's brother?" Will asked. "Romania. Hannibal, I thought you were from Lithuania."

"We are," Nigel answered before Hannibal could respond. "I just happened to jump a few borders." He leaned back in his chair, long fingers drumming the armrests. "FBI profiler, hunh? There's a shitshow of a job if there ever was one. Must do a real headcase on you, seeing mutilated bodies all the fucking time. But people are pricks, am I right? You know that already, though, you're the profiler, you got that information a long time ago." Hannibal wanted to interject, but Nigel continued to prattle on. "So how do you do it? That's gotta be stressful, figuring out how the sick fucks think."

Hannibal did not appreciate the jibe, and he gave his brother a stern unspoken warning with a hooded glare that left no question he was walking the tightrope between life and death. To have him taunting his dear Will like this was out of the question and, ever ready to assist when it came to manipulating an emotionally distraught patient, Hannibal turned to his brother and said, "I hate to remind you of this, Nigel, but Will is under my care..."

"He said you guys have 'conversations.'"

"However you interpret it, Will and I have things to discuss which fall under the blanket umbrella of doctor and patient confidentiality. The hour is late and it would be best if you retired for the night and allowed Will and I to have one of our 'conversations'. You must be tired from the long flight, and adjusting to a new environment and schedule can be difficult. There is a guest room, two doors down to the left, upstairs. You may use it."

But Nigel wasn't quite finished yet, and he spoke to Will with a half smile, as though he held the answer key to what was really troubling him. "So some woman you know kisses you and then says you're too fucked to fuck. Believe me, I understand your pain. Women never know what they want, they toy with your heart just so they can rip it apart. I was married not so long ago, and she dumped me for some American brat. I don't suppose I should unhappy about it, the whole thing was a fucked up mess right from the start. But if you ask me it's a cruel thing to walk on a man's heart and then wrench it all away like she did to you. Like mine did to me. I'm swearing off all those bitches for a long while. Fuck them. I'm not afraid of slipping on a different pair of boots." He put his hand up against Hannibal's miserable glare. "I'm going, I'm going. Have your little 'conversation'. Don't know why you'd bother, every fucking thing that needs to be said has been fucking said, am I right Mr...ah?"

"Will. Just Will."

"Yeah." Nigel smiled widely, and earned a tentative one in return. "Goodnight. Will."

He went to grab his suitcase and Hannibal snatched it up before he had a chance.

"Follow me." Hannibal stormed up the stairs, his posture as erect as a statue's while his brother sauntered up behind him, stealing glances at Will who was likewise stealing curious looks his way as well. This was disastrous, Hannibal thought, the fury welling within him so palpable it was a wonder he didn't just turn around and shove Nigel down the stairs, let him lay with a broken neck at the base and wait for him to slowly suffocate to death.

He opened the guest room door and practically tossed Nigel's suitcase into it. "I trust there shall be no more interruptions from you tonight. We shall continue to discuss the parameters of this situation tomorrow."

"I see you and I have some common elements," Nigel said, and he pulled out his pack of cigarettes and shook out a fag, putting it between his lips in pure defiance. He craned his head around the door to get another peek of the enigmatic little bundle of nerves still sitting beside a dead fireplace. "We both like pretty things."

Furious, Hannibal snatched the unlit cigarette from his twin's mouth.

"No smoking."

~*~

"Your brother is a bit of a character."

"That is one way of describing him." Hannibal fussed over his french press, making coffee for both of them. The very thought of sleep was banished, especially with the second text Jack Crawford sent, which was a list of demands at least two screens long, insisting they go over photographs and itemized lists of the evidence found at the last scene first before coming in for the morning meeting. Unreasonable, yes, and there was nothing anyone could do about it.

For now there were more pressing, personal matters to deal with, and he hoped his mysterious brother's intrusion hadn't caused too much damage. He gave Will his cup of coffee first and then took the second, the extra dregs in his mug fuelling more caffeine. "I don't know my brother," Hannibal admitted. "We have been estranged for a very long time, decades in fact, and we are virtually strangers. I do not know his motives for showing up on my doorstep as he has and I am not happy that he is here." A white lie, as he did not know his brother at all, but the proper, more believable balance had been struck in Will's mind. "I have suspicions he is involved in criminal activity and this concerns me a great deal."

Will blandly sipped at his coffee, the lack of sleep something he'd been getting used to, though his body was taking the toll. Will's eyes were ringed in black, his nerves frayed and edgy due to lack of rest. A late meeting may have to be in order, Hannibal thought. Their was no point having their star profiler collapsing at the scene, no matter how entertaining the look on Jack's face would be.

"What kind of criminal activity?" Will asked.

"The usual, I imagine. He is a thug."

Will frowned, contemplating this over his coffee. "No. Not entirely." He caught Hannibal's quizzical eye as he brought the mug to his lips. "I don't get the impression he's only a thug, that's all. He's more...He's got an earthy intelligence."

"Is that what they call a guttermouth these days?"

"Self made. On the fringe but knows how to work it to his advantage. Not immune to human interaction and all of its foibles, but knows when to step out and recreate himself. Simple as his outlook seems, he's not a guy I'd want to get on the wrong side of. He's passionate. Every feeling he has is fully exposed, it's like he's walking around naked." Will raised a brow at Hannibal. "It's kind of refreshing, actually. He doesn't wear masks, he isn't a liar. But he's still extremely dangerous. I hope he isn't trying to extort money out of you or something, he's that kind of guy."

"I'm not sure," Hannibal said, surprising himself with his honesty. "There may be underlying motives but I think his need to be here says a lot about his current state of mind. He expressed to you the loss of a relationship. Perhaps he is searching for reconnection and is looking for it within the framework of family."

Will pinched his brows, his tired eyes finding it difficult to focus, the constant encroaching fever rising and lowering him within him in a pulse that beat hard against his skull. He would be so easy to push right now, so lovely to break.

"Do you think I should turn him out?"

Will frowned over this, his eyes blinking as though just waking up. "No. He's your brother."

"Even if he is dangerous?"

"Especially if he is dangerous."

"You fear he will retaliate if I try to implement a boundary."

Will laughed at this, his hand rubbing the back of his neck, working out kinks. "You aren't very good with boundaries, Hannibal." Will smiled at the bland expression Hannibal gave him at this. "I don't know if he would attack you, per se. I get the distinct feeling he's reaching out for something and it might be in your interest to know what it is. He just said he was forced out of a messy marriage, so maybe he's looking for a safe place to lick his wounds."

"You think his need to be here is due to his emotional turmoil?"

"I think he has a few reasons, and when a 'thug' as you call him has to hide it might be because his enemies are circling in. I'm just warning you that I'm not getting the impression your brother is as simple as he seems. There's layers to his motives."

"Thus, I find myself at the precipice of a drama that is not my own. A play that I was not wanting to attend." Hannibal brought his mug up to his lips, sniffing the heady aroma of a good Columbian blend before closing his eyes and taking in its pleasant, dark flavours. "It seems you also had an eventful evening, otherwise you would not be here. I'm sorry if I am compounding your stress with more of my own troubles. Please Will, tell me what is on your mind."

Will shrugged, much to Hannibal's consternation. "Actually...I don't really think it's that big a deal anymore. Weird as it is, your brother summed it up pretty good."

"You are taking advice from a very dubious source, Will."

"It was just panic." Hannibal watched carefully as Will scraped at the surface of the mug in his hand with a light draw of his thumbnail across the white ceramic surface. "I'm just tired of being in everyone's test tube. Picked at, analyzed, questioned and pulled into scrutiny, like I'm some kind of new species of lab rat. Knowing that everything that makes me who I am is the prime reason for rejection. I don't know, it was just nice hearing something unadorned with therapy for a change. Solid words, not analysis."

"I understand. I shall have to add a significant amount of expletives to our future conversations."

Will grinned at this. "Don't judge him too harshly on that. People who curse a lot tend to be more honest." Both their cell phones buzzed and they gave each other exasperated, knowing looks. "Jack has been doing overtime tonight."

"I'm considering prescribing him a sedative."

"If it will help the rest of us sleep, I'd say that's a good idea."

~*~

Insomnia was a polyamorous bitch. Nigel puttered about the guest room, taking in the overly baroque style that would make a Victorian whore jealous. Though the large four poster bed in the centre of the room was inviting, his nerves were itching and on edge, a feeling compounded by the constant ache pressed deep in his side. He tossed his cell phone onto the soft white duvet, a familiar name blinking red against the black background on the screen.

Darko was a goddamned prick, that was obvious, and if he thought he was going to get his 25 million back, he might as well give himself a blow job first. The text on his cell phone, written in Romanian, was nothing more than a long, curse laden diatribe full of all sorts of creative threats as to what they were going to do with his body when they caught him. His brother might be a sick fuck serial killer, but he had nothing on Darko's rage, not when that kind of cash was at stake. Nigel grinned as he closed his phone, not responding to the text. He couldn't trust this phone not to reveal where he now lived, so Darko would never have a reply--a bit of unfinished business that would pick at him and leave him simmering in constant rage. He'd make stupid fucking mistakes in that state. He'd get a new cell tomorrow and toss this one. Darko could send all the texts he wanted then, to all the fish in the fucking sea after Nigel tossed the cell into the ocean.

As for his current arrangement, it wasn't much better if he was honest. His long lost twin brother, better known as a vicious serial killer and probably still creating works of human art, was hardly a good place to fall. Family was family though, right? He hoped some of that good old fashioned Lecter family ties psychosis could be counted on to keep what he was doing here under wraps, at least for the time being. He'd done the murdering bastard a solid all those years ago, and it was about time he cashed in on that payback.

Nigel winced as he moved towards the bed. He still hadn't fully healed and when he sat on the edge of the bed he could feel the twinge in his side where the bullet went through. He supposed he was lucky it was a rookie cop who had done it. A more experienced shithead detective would have made sure he got a bullet through the heart.

It was a full circle sort of love affair, he and Gabi, their love starting off with a similar injury and now ending like this. But that's how life was, you rode it hard and then when it came to an end, well, fuck it. All your dreams come true and then they fucking implode. Circle of fucking life.

He pulled out a smoke and lit it, taking a long drag as he looked around the guest room. Quite the fancy faggot was his brother, obsessed with the finest linens, the best antiques, flawlessly put together pieces that were the realm of a detail oriented artist. But then, his brother never did became an artist, Nigel realized with no small amount of surprise. Doctor Hannibal Lecter. A goddamned psychiatrist. Of all the things he could have become. The world was one strange fucking place.

He lay back on the bed with a heavy flop, his cigarette lit and poised beside him between nicotine stained fingers. He took a long drag and dropped ashes onto Hannibal's priceless oriental rug. He was tempting fate by staying here, he knew this, for Hannibal was more dangerous than any flunkie Darko could send over and it was clear they'd already decided they didn't like each other. A shame, really. Brothers should look out for one another, that's what they do. It's why he'd never gone to the police with his photographs--Oh the deals he could have struck with those assholes! But you didn't do that to family, you didn't turn in blood. Even now the threat of the photos was an empty one, and if Hannibal one day had enough of him and decided to make some kind of bouquet out of his dick, so what? Gabi was gone and he was alone and he'd already been dead twice.

As for the money, it was a ridiculous sum. He'd have to get rid of most of it, he didn't need to be greedy. He wasn't aiming to ruin the man at first, but fuck Darko and his saving face bullshit. All he wanted was a decent buy out retirement package and Darko, fucking asshole that he is, wouldn't go for it. That's the trouble with these fucks, Nigel mused. They didn't understand loyalty and what that was supposed to mean. Maybe it was because of who he was that put that word on too high a pedestal, that whole Lecter nobility bullshit creeping in, but there it was. You take care of the pricks who watch your back, Darko. He should have known something like this was going to happen.

The tip of his cigarette grew into a long line of ash that he flung over the side of the bed. Nigel was not a stupid man, though he was sure his brother thought otherwise and in comparison maybe he was a lot simpler. But not everyone could just unhinge their minds away from practicality and live inside of books and memories. He was perceptive enough to know that his brother lived a sad and lonely life here in America, surrounded by beautiful things that touched his soul in thought only. The desperation was rather telling. Really, who else would let their patient storm into their home at zero in the morning just to have a 'conversation'?

Ah, fuck yes. Beautiful things.

He was perfectly serious when he'd said he'd sworn off women.

Will Graham--That was his name, wasn't it?--His brother was keeping some close enemies company by bringing him into his house like this, establishing a little--what was it?--ongoing tea party full of 'conversations'. He could just imagine the fucking games being played with the poor man's mind, while Hannibal deflected and obscured the truth from him. He couldn't be sure if Hannibal was still killing, but he did know America was the perfect place for a serial killer to set in some roots. There was lots of competition on this frontier, and a fuck up like his brother could easily slip beneath the radar while more obvious threats walked around in bloody t-shirts advertising themselves.

Still, he was taking a huge risk playing with that pretty little profiler. Nigel finished his cigarette and put it out on the edge of what his fingers thought was a nearby trash can, no doubt leaving a scorch mark on the brass surface. The rounded surface of it made him pause and think maybe it wasn't he thought it was...He picked it up and found it to be a weird hollowed skull fashioned out of brass. He'd put his spent cigarette in the eye socket. He shrugged, no matter, it had a cigarette butt rolling around in it now, and would be full of them by the time he knew it was safe to leave.

Pretty Will Graham. Such a strange thing to say about a man, but it was true, and Nigel couldn't fault his brother for developing an unhealthy interest in him. Fuck it, he was finding himself drawn to that little jittery mess, big blue eyes fragile with inner turmoil, a big fucking Help Me sign shining through loud and clear. A pretty little broken man coming to Dr. Hannibal Lecter in hopes of getting glued back together. What a fucking joke. He didn't need some stupid 'conversation' to fix him, what Will Graham needed was something strong to hold him up, some kind of brute to stand at the gates of his mind and say to all the horrible monsters trying to get in to go fuck themselves. He needed someone with plenty of bullets for every one of them.

Now nestled in a fairly safe zone, Nigel was ready to relax, insomnia fucking off while he drifted into an easy sleep, one he hadn't had in quite a while. The bed was pleasantly soft and he again inwardly remarked on how much his brother adored his creature comforts. He sank into the bed, his body and mind seeming to float within it. Funny how when he closed his eyes he could see pretty Will Graham, his mind already transfixed on that distraught mouth as he wondered what it would look like wrapped loosely around his cock.

If he was thinking it he was sure his brother jacked himself off every night at thoughts of fucking every one of Will Graham's orifices. Just that fact alone was enough to make Nigel want to get to know him better.

He fell asleep, not recognizing the terminal illness that afflicted so much of his family line had begun to take root. Will Graham was interesting, and the seed of that interest was already sprouting and twisting its way through Nigel's heart.

Of course, he'd have to prune out his brother's interest first. There was a pang of brotherly guilt at the thought of moving in on what wasn't his, after all he knew what that felt like. But then there it was, that trembling hand going through soft brown curls shoved to the fore of his memory and that was it, Nigel had fallen.

Fuck 'Il Monstro'. All's fair in love and war and all that shit.