Beneath Will Graham’s skin roils a thunderstorm of terrifying magnitude, that much is clear.
He’s not sure Will knows this, or, perhaps, understands what it could mean, given the correct timing and the right tools. Will’s a man seasick from his own tossing and turning, the tell-tale insomniac purple beneath his eyes and the smattering of dog-hair on clothes that are always crumpled. He’s battened down his hatches and is left bereft, bewildered, every measure he could think of taken and still the monsters come unbidden and unfiltered when he, under great pressure from Jack Crawford, calls. His eyes spark at blood spatter and his brain is always sharpest when his fingers close around a knife that can never shine as bright as the words that spill from his mouth. He’s a monster. He’s a mess. He’s incalculably, disgustingly, morbidly beautiful.
Yes, thinks Hannibal Lecter, a man in love already, you will more than do.
“Tell me the truth,” says Jack Crawford, which is not something Hannibal Lecter enjoys being asked, because what follows is usually banal, hysterical, or both, “Can you profile him?”
That afternoon, Hannibal had watched Will’s hands grasp around a phantom scalpel, drag it across the throat of a man who must have begged for his life in his mind’s eye, if what Will Graham sees can ever be described by a phrase so simple, and so conventional, and he and he alone had noticed how Will carefully crossed his legs afterwards. He wonders if it was deliberate, the shakiness of Will’s hands, a long-ago learnt trick of the light to keep up the facade that Will Graham so desperately needs to function.
Except, of course, Hannibal knows that, truly, he doesn’t need it at all.
“It may take some time,” he says, and does not let himself be disappointed at how easily Special Agent Jack Crawford, the FBI’s much-feted best and brightest, is fooled.
“We could socialise like adults,” he says, and he says it in full knowledge that no one treats Will like an adult, and that Will, even if he wanted to ask, does not know how.
But Will is not a child, but a man, never a mark but almost an equal, so Hannibal draws him out and draws him out--
--and Will’s laughter is bright and dark and lovely, and Hannibal indulges himself by listening for a little while, because men like Will Graham never laugh, and men like Hannibal Lecter rarely listen.
Jack Crawford is control, bottled and coiled, edged wire under a patient smile and Will Graham is nauseous with his terror of him. The team don’t notice, or don’t care, that Will stiffens when Jack touches him, leans neither in nor out but is caught in stasis, between a body screaming no and a brain overruling that this is not about what you want. Jack is slick, quiet, careful insinuation, and it takes less than a month for Hannibal to find Will throwing up after Jack pushed his hair off his forehead with a firm, gentle hand.
“I think I ate something bad,” says Will, slipping into armour he does not quite know how to use, because every meal he’s eaten today Hannibal made.
“I am very sorry,” says Hannibal, and Will blinks, once, and neither acknowledge their lies.
Will invites him in. A pause at the threshold, an instinctive inward twitch of what lies beneath the calm seas of Hannibal’s patient face, and then acquiescence. He steps back. He opens the door. He lets him in.
This will matter, in time.
Hannibal would make a thousand phone calls to find out that Will shakes when fresh blood flecks into his mouth and eyes, and he can’t believe how lucky he is that he only needed to make the one.
He sits in the back of one of Will’s lectures, and studies the man, not the slides.
He does not make eye contact with a single student. He does not allow questions. His voice is eerily steady over descriptions of motive and actual details of the murder. His fingers flex convulsively over his thigh and he takes his glasses off when his students all try to catch him before he leaves. (If they must make him look at them, he won’t see.)
“Next time,” he says, and Hannibal stands up, raises a hand and a box containing a very recently-made liver pate and waits for Will to notice him, and Will steps back from his students, compulsively shuffles his notes, slips his glasses on, looks up--
--and Will Graham grins from ear to ear.
“You won’t like me when I’m psychoanalyzed,” says Will Graham, but Hannibal has never been more certain of anything in his life.
Will takes over crime scenes like a parasite.
He’s silent, and still, and it makes it even more apparent, somehow, that he can see the crime happening before his eyes like a flickering movie reel. He falls to his knees and spreads his arms wide but this is no crucifixion and there is no absolution here--
--and Hannibal Lecter crushes a beetle beneath his thousand dollar loafers, and revels in watching his own crime through the twitches of Will’s face for a second time.
The girl’s hand is warm in his, but not as warm as her blood had been. He poses and lets himself drift off, knows enough to know that anyone as perceptive as Will Graham will know if he fakes it, that Will checks for REM sleep like his settings are automatic, that he can’t filter out the things he learns even if he wants to. Some traps are best set with all your apparent defences down, the better to lure your prey into a false sense of security. He’s used that one a lot.
When he wakes up Will is looking at him, and quickly looks away when Hannibal’s eyes meet his own.
"Are you quite all right, William?" he asks, and suppresses a full body shiver when Will replies, "Rather cold in here. That's all."
Will frowns, presses his mouth into a thin line, and Hannibal replays Will's words in his mind, and--
--and those, Hannibal Lecter knows, are his speech patterns in Will Graham's mouth.