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Time and Time Again

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Will stood there a moment trying to catch his breath staring at Hannibal. 

“You were supposed to leave. You need to get out of here.” Will pleaded with Hannibal as he stepped closer, reaching hesitantly for Hannibal, then letting his hand fall as he was about to take the other man’s hand.

“I could not leave. Not without a reunion.” Hannibal’s smile was that same smile that Will had begun to know as the ‘I know more that I’ll ever let on’ smile. It was both infuriating and endearing.

“And what reunion is that? We- I mean, you don’t have time for this. You need to get out of here before Jack gets here.” Will was not above pleading. Until this moment he had not thought that he would be on Hannibal’s side, but the last few days Will realized a truth he had been denying for months. He cared about Hannibal. They were connected in ways that he had never connected with another human being before.

“Come on out. Don’t be scared.”

Will heard the footsteps of another person in the house. When he looked towards the sound the pounding in his heart increased and his fear response had him on overload. That was until he saw her.

“Abigail?” 

The small smile that crossed Abigail’s lips had Will staring in disbelief. He had gone to jail because everyone, including himself at one point, believed he had killed her in one of his fugue states.

“Hello, Will.”

Will turned to Hannibal attempting to keep the disbelief and betrayal off his face, but he knew he had failed when all Hannibal did was step closer and cupped Will’s cheek.

“I did everything for a reason.”

Will wanted to yell and scream, but they just didn’t have time.

“We have to go.” There was no doubt now in Will’s mind. He needed to leave with Hannibal if he was going to get any answers. He was conflicted and held in place by emotions that were near crippling. He wanted to hug Abigail and kill Hannibal. But, when all Hannibal did was grab Will’s hand and gently squeezed, Will was lost.

“Yes. We shall leave, and never come back to this place. Agreed?”

Will looked from Abigail to Hannibal nodding his agreement as all words left him. Finally, the spell that had overtaken him broke, Will began to move quickly. Grabbing the bag he had dropped in the living room, had Hannibal and Abigail moving as well. They left by the back door, piling into Hannibal’s vehicle, which was packed-up already, and left as sirens and police vehicles began to surround the front of the house.

Hannibal sped off, no one gave chase because no one was paying attention to the rear of the house. The next few hours the three of them traveled in silence as they fled together hoping for a new life. Will knew he was lost, but he wasn’t sure that he wanted to found. Looking behind him at Abigail, his love for the girl making the decisions for him, Will knew he wasn’t leaving. The connection to both Hannibal and Abigail was too strong for him to fight anymore. And, maybe, just maybe they could begin anew somewhere as a family.

“Will, are you all right?” Hannibal asked as he parked at the private airport where a plane was already waiting. Will softly chuckled to himself not surprised that Hannibal had already planned for every contingency.

“Yes. For the first time in far too long, I feel...” Will looked towards his former psychiatrist and smiled, “Whole.”

Hannibal returned the smile before getting out of the car with Abigail and Will following. Will understood that once he boarded that plane, there was no going back for any of them. The only regret that Will had was leaving his dogs behind, but he knew Alanna would look after them, maybe she would take them on, maybe she would find good homes for them, all he knew was she would never be cruel to them. 

Will’s mind was in two places as he took that first step onto the stairs of the plane. He took a moment to look around, although there was little to see other than open fields and airplane hangars, it was more the idea of leaving his life behind him and going forward on a new path. One that may eventually destroy him, but looking up and seeing Hannibal standing there, he was willing to take the chance. 

“Come on Will. We must be going.” Hannibal stretched out his hand and Will stared for only a moment before he made the decision to take it and be led into a new chapter of his life.

_____________

6 Months Later

Will lounged on the chaise by the window overlooking verdant fields riotous with colors bordering on the unnatural, clad only in sleep pants, and a pleasant ache in his body from the previous evenings activities. Picking up the excellent cup of coffee room service had brought in as part of the morning meal, Will closed his eyes and slowly savored the rich, dark flavors unmarred by milk or sugar. The hum of appreciation Will made was equally rich and deep. 

“And what has you humming so sweetly this morning, Will?” Smiling to himself as he sipped the coffee, Will looked only with his eyes over to the man sprawled in the large, indulgent bed. Hannibal looked at home in the understated elegance of a raised bed with silk and high end cotton encasing the king sized mattress. The ornately carved wood depicting fairies dancing in a forest had intrigued Will the first night at the out of the way bed and breakfast Hannibal had whisked them to just a few nights previous.

“This, most excellent coffee. I have been spoiled by its flavors and almost sensuous texture. This needs nothing added, perfect in its simplicity.” Will set the cup back down on the small table that sat near the chaise. A miniature version of the same carvings as the bed, with a rose colored marble as the tabletop. Will ran his fingers over the cool marble, a barely perceptible smile on his face, he put on the kind of show Hannibal would appreciate.

“You are learning to appreciate the things I’ve been trying to teach you, Will. To experience the subtle beauty in even a simple cup of coffee.”

Will slid off the chaise like a predator who picks up the scent of his prey and slinks along the ground waiting for the right time to attack. Will’s prey is as dangerous, if not more, than himself. There’s something powerful and exhilarating about his attraction to Hannibal. Even when they had been at odds with each other, the pull had constantly been there. 

Will categorized their relationship in three phases. The first had been the circling stage. Learning, analyzing, and getting to know who each other truly was. The second stage was the friendship that turned slowly towards obsession, on both of their parts. Will’s obsession was getting to the truth of the man, even if it meant finding a killer. Hannibal’s obsession was with Will’s mind. They way his empathy worked and how Will was always one step away from letting out those darker desires that bloomed and tormented him when he had killed Garrett Jacob Hobbs. These equally opposing, yet complimentary obsessions took both Will and Hannibal places, and depths neither of them knew they were capable of.

Then, the third phase. Acceptance. Will accepted Hannibal for who he was, the elegantly violent individual that had fascinated Will from the beginning. Hannibal accepted Will’s journey towards unleashing his passion, and the violence that lived just under Will’s skin.

These fleeting thoughts took only but a moment as Will crawled up on the bed and hovered just above Hannibal. Breath steady and even, as the smile spread to an almost feral grin.

“Yes, I appreciate many beautiful things.” Will leaned down, not giving Hannibal any time to react as he took a pert, brown nipple in his mouth and not so gently bit making Hannibal let out a surprised noise.

“William,” The near pleading tone had Will lifting only his eyes as he nipped across Hannibal's chest, taking in patches of rough, curly hair and pulling enough to make Hannibal hiss in pleasure. “If your goal is to attempt to get me to break, you can try, but just like our evening, you will not succeed.”

Will chuckled darkly as he finally made it to the other nipple and bit a little harder this time, and nearly succeeded in making Hannibal’s eyes roll back in his head. Will spent time sucking, biting, pinching, and pulling Hannibal’s nipples, almost, but not quite breaking that cool, controlled facade.

Abandoning the chest, Will made his way down Hannibal’s stomach, pausing at the scars, one Will himself had given his lover a little over a year before. Mouthing at each scar, Hannibal made the most unmanly sound Will had ever heard cross his lips. Hannibal’s prediction that Will wouldn’t be able to break him was not going to come true. Slowly, Will made progress, his tongue made a warm, wet trail across Hannibal’s stomach, then down towards his belly button. 

Hannibal’s hands were fisted in the sheet under them, his breathing hitched as Will took his time exploring the small erogenous zone Will had only recently discovered, which made Hannibal crazy. Will’s thoughts were pinging around in his head as realization hit him hard. In this moment, Will had full control of the situation. The knowledge that he could, on a certain level, be in total control of Hannibal made Will give his lover a dark, wicked look. The breath he heard Hannibal take let Will know that Hannibal understood the situation perfectly.

“You are mine, Hannibal.” Will practically growled as the knowledge did things to Will he wasn’t fully prepared for.  Broken pieces inside of him healed upon this realization that Hannibal was not always in control. Though it took far too long for Will to come to this realization, there was no way he was going to back down now.

“Always, William.” Hannibal’s voice cracked under the erotic pressure Will was putting him under. 

“I like when you call me that. So formal. Even in your worst moments, you are always so formal, Hannibal. I mean to take that away right here, right now.” Will hooked his fingers in the pajama pants Hannibal wore and began to peel them off at an agonizingly slow pace. When Hannibal’s prick sprang free, half hard and already pearled at the head with precome, Will knew he had Hannibal exactly how he wanted him.

“I...” further words were taken from Hannibal as Will swallowed him down. The pace in which Will used to work Hannibal to full hardness was that same slow pace. Will once again lifted only his eyes to see Hannibal’s reaction. A moment later one of Hannibal’s hands became entwined in Will’s hair, gripping hard, but not enough to hurt, just enough to let Will know just how much Hannibal was attempting to hold on. 

“Hannibal speechless, I never thought I’d see the day.” Will slid off the bed and pushed his own sleep pants off of himself, then grabbed the bottle of lube on the nightstand and began to slick up Hannibal’s prick. 

“William,” Hannibal growled low and attempted to take control of the situation, but Will was having none of it. For far too long Will had been under Hannibal’s control, he had power now, and he wasn’t afraid to exploit it. Straddling Hannibal’s waist, Will took the moment to really look at his lover, to take in the state of him. Eyes blacker than Will had ever seen on Hannibal, hair mussed, skin slightly darkened with arousal. The look was sexy as hell and Will crookedly smiled as he lifted up, took Hannibal's hard prick in his hand, then slowly began to sink down.

“What the...” Hannibal swallowed hard as Will fully seated himself.

“I was lonely and have been waiting for you to wake-up.” Will had prepared for this moment and made sure he was sufficiently lubed up. Using his powerful leg muscles, Will began to move. Hannibal unlatched his hands from the sheets and gripped Will’s waist in a bid to attempt to take back control. Will was fully aware of what Hannibal attempted, but he stopped moving, which made Hannibal growl.

"For once, Hannibal, you are not in control."

"Will, I am always in control." Hannibal challenged.

"Not this time." Will began to move once more, and once more Hannibal's hands gripped Will's waist and attempted to upend him towards the bed. Will was immovable. The knowledge that he had the upper hand gave Will power he had assumed he had lost since he was wrongly incarcerated. Will had forgiven Hannibal, but there had been a power imbalance between the two of them since the tentative start to their new relationship just mere months ago. Will, in this moment, told Hannibal with his body that he knew he had power. He was equal to Hannibal, and from this moment forward, Will was not going to let Hannibal forget it. He kept his movements controlled even as the pleasure built up at the base of his spine, and through his groin, down his thighs. Will was on fire, the passion that had been unleashed in him slowly burned deep down inside of him.

"Will, please." 

"Hannibal Lecter, begging?" Will smiled as he taunted.

"For god's sakes, man. Stop teasing and get on with it."

Will laughed as he leaned down to kiss Hannibal. This wasn't a quick chaste kiss, this was a clash of wills that began moments ago in Will's attempt to break Hannibal. Control of the kiss was given over to Will, who was surprised that Hannibal capitulated easily. He slipped his tongue inside to explore. Pulling back mere moments later, Will was pleased with Hannibal's swollen lips and glazed over eyes. This spurred him on and he picked up the pace, fucking himself on Hannibal's prick until his lover began to shake, with the need for release. 

"William, I am not going to last."

"Then let go, Hannibal. You've already lost control, give it to me." Will settled his hands on Hannibal's chest, pressing down slightly as he rode Hannibal's prick hard, and fast. Before long, Hannibal cried out, his own hips stuttered as he pushed up fast into Will, his body releasing that which he had held on tightly to.

"Fuck," Will laughed softly at the expletive. Hannibal was not known for cursing, and when it happened, Will reveled in the display of the loss of control.

Pulling off, Will grabbed a pillow and rolled his lover onto it. 

"Will, what are you doing?"

"Why, Hannibal, if you hadn’t figured it out, I have not come. I intend to rectify this situation immediately." Will had a generous dollop of slick in his hand and swiped it across Hannibal's asshole. The hiss from his lover made Will smile once more. He came to another realization, Hannibal gave in to Will's need for control. Will felt something shift inside of him. Something hard and dark that he had been holding onto for far too long ease up as he prepared Hannibal for the thorough fucking he had in mind. 

Will didn't delude himself that the mind games the two played with each other were finished. They had a long way to go, but the power between them shifted and Will knew that after this morning, things would be more balanced between them. They still had a ways to go, but as he slid his cock into Hannibal, the noise of pleasure-pain he got back spurred him on. He was gentle at first, not wanting to cause real pain, that they had gotten past. Will drew out his strokes as Hannibal pushed back against him. Overstimulation was a huge kink of Hannibal's. It spoke to the excess Hannibal enjoyed in all aspects of his life. The outwardly elegant and fastidious façade hid a man of passionate overindulgence. From this day forward Will had every intention to exploit all of Hannibal's kinks, as well as his own.

Any semblance of conversation stopped as Will gave in to his passion. It didn't take him long, he had already been on the verge of coming when he made the decision to use Hannibal's ass as his means of getting off.  The force of his release surprised him as he slumped against Hannibal's back, wrapping his arms as best he could around his lover. The two men stayed as they were for a few moments, taking in the significance of what happened, and the quiet passion of their lovemaking.

"I wanted to hate you. For so long I wanted to hate you and what you were. But, I can't. You're a part of me, Hannibal and I've been afraid to admit just how deeply entrenched in my life you are. I love you, and I hated myself for falling for you shortly after we met."

Will pulled from Hannibal's body and laid on his back on the bed. Hannibal rolled over after getting the pillow out of the way and wrapped around Will.

"I will admit that when I met you, I wanted to possess you. Then, when you got too close, I wanted to destroy you. But, I couldn't. You've come a long way, Will, from when I first met you. I had tried to destroy the feelings I was having for you because they were a danger to me. But, I finally had to admit that I loved you."

Will played with Hannibal's hair, contemplating their future. They were safe, and Will felt more in control of himself than he had been for years. He knew in that moment he would never leave Hannibal willingly. Bending his head down, he kissed Hannibal, who fervently kissed him back.

"What do we do now?"

Hannibal's smile held that touch of wicked that had drawn Will in at the beginning of their relationship. "Now, we see what Abigail is up to and have breakfast together."

Abigail had a separate room but was never far from them. She had her freedom, but Will was pleased she had decided to stay with them. Breakfast was a simple affair, and Will found himself smiling and actually enjoying the simple moment for what it was. A family coming together for a meal and connecting in a way Will had never experienced. 

_______

Schaffhausen, Switzerland had to be one of the most picturesque small towns Will had ever experienced. The shops were charming, the cafe’s welcoming with delicious food and coffee. He could get lost in the truly amazing warm soft pastries that were a breakfast staple. 

Walking the streets during the day, buying gifts and trinkets here and there filled Will with a sense of peace he had not felt since the day Jack Crawford walked into this classroom at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. That day changed Will’s life forever. Thinking back to that first case, where is life intersected with Abigail’s no longer filled him with dread and self-loathing. Turning towards the girl, Will reached out for her and she easily fell into step close enough to him to wrap their arms around each other. 

“What are you thinking about, Will?” Hannibal’s hand entwined with his as they peeked into shops, stopped to smell the amazing fare on offer through the square they were currently exploring.

“Are you asking as my therapist or my lover?” Will turned his head just a fraction in an attempt to catch Hannibal’s expression.

“I think the day that we slept together for the first time was the day I stopped being your therapist, don’t you agree?” Both men had agreed from the beginning to not hide their relationship from Abigail. 

“I think Will is thinking about the same thing I am. That day my father wanted to kill me.” Will pulled her closer and nodded his agreement. Hannibal assessed the both of them in that quiet way of his.

Will liked the pace they were keeping. Strolling along, appearing to be a perfectly normal gay couple with their teenaged daughter, picking up trinkets here and there, extolling the virtues of the food, and contributing to the tourist economy of the town. But, as much as Will wished it, they were not what most would consider normal if they looked too close.

Will knew he had a choice. Fully accept the darkness that had been growing inside of him since the day he had killed Hobbs and give in fully to the relationship with Hannibal, or let Hannibal go and find his way back to the States in the hope he could regain the life he had before Jack. If he chose that route, he would attempt to get Abigail to return with him, but he had a feeling she was just as obsessed with Hannibal as he was.

“I don’t believe that is the only thing our Will is thinking about. What has your mind so preoccupied this afternoon?”

Will twitched his lips in a semblance of a smile as he turned to fully look at Hannibal.

“I find myself on the precipice of a decision that will affect not just my life, but yours and Abigail’s as well. We’ve been honest with each other these past months. Putting aside the games we played with each other. And, I don’t mean the dominance games we play in bed.” Will’s twitching turned into a smile as he gripped Hannibal’s hand.

“You’re contemplating leaving.”

“I’m weighing my options.”

“Your mind is clearer. You’ve conquered whatever has been haunting you. The darkness in you that you tried so hard to hide from me.”

Will laughed as they walked past charming stores selling even more charming touristy trinkets. He didn’t answer Hannibal, not yet. Will kept his own counsel and knew that Hannibal wouldn’t push until it was necessary, or his curiosity got the better of him. Before he could continue the conversation an antique store caught Will’s eye. He turned to give Hannibal a mischievous smile then pulled his lover and adopted daughter along. Hannibal didn’t struggle all that hard. Abigail’s eyes lit up as they pushed inside.

“Antique stores all have such a unique smell, don’t you think?”

Will closed his eyes and took a deep breath, letting the musty smell envelop him. “Yes they do, but I like it.” Letting Hannibal’s hand go, Will began to explore. Abigail went off on her own, they trusted her to alway come back to them, no matter where they were.

The store was bigger than it looked from the outside and had at least two floors above. Taking time to peruse the shelves settled the free-floating anxiety Will had been feeling with the wandering thoughts of his often disordered mind. 

Hannibal was correct in his assessment that Will’s mind was clearer, but he still wasn’t fully healed, nor healthy. He had a relationship with a serial killer, and an emotionally lost young woman, which was not the actions of a man with an ordered and healthy mind. 

Will began exploring what else the antique shop had to offer. Jewelry, various kitchen and bedroom items abound. Furniture, kids’ toys, display shelves, and more were all available for sale. When he caught up to Hannibal again, it was to find him in a section labeled 21 and over. Will did not think Hannibal was consuming any type of pornography, but he was curious as to what the area held.

Will was not prepared for what he was seeing. There were displays of knives of all kinds, old firearms reverently restored, medical instruments from a bygone era that looked more torture devices than anything. And Hannibal standing there lightly running his fingers over each piece as if it was a work of art to be revered. There was something primal, yet fascinating about the whole thing that had Will moving forward almost as if he was pulled in against his will.

“Do not worry, Will. While I appreciate the craftsmanship of each of these pieces, I do not plan on their purchase.”

“One can appreciate, even own something of this quality,” Will moved closer, his hand hovered over a particularly ornate stiletto switchblade. When he looked up in Hannibal’s eyes an understanding passed between them. 

“You were saying?”

“You can own something this beautiful, but never use it.”

“Then what is the point.” Hannibal cocked his head in just that way of his that captivated Will the first time they met.

“The point is to learn restraint.”

“Hmm. I believe we both need to learn that lesson then.”

Will let the moment pass. He didn’t want to talk about the state of his mind and the conflicting emotions he was dealing with, or the urges that had been getting harder and harder to set aside. He needed to walk away at this moment or he would find himself more lost than he already was.

Turning away, he headed into another room that had the most intriguing antique photography equipment from the turn of the century, to the modern era. Boxes of old photographs sat neatly lined up on wooden tables. Framed photos lined the walls next to display shelves showing off a particularly interesting, or old camera. 

Will began to rifle through the photos, not really knowing what he was looking for, but he got lost in the mystery of who these people might be. Some photos were labelled with just a name and a year. A few of the photos had noted relationship status. Others it was the occasion being caught on film for generations to enjoy. Will wondered at the people that gave up their visual history so easily. 

Will became lost in his imagination as he took his time with those photos that captured his attention. He wondered who they were, where they were from, how these precious moments were given away so virtual strangers could have the opportunity to own a piece of someone else’s history. Will found himself transfixed by a particularly interesting photo when he felt, more than saw, someone come up next to him. 

“That is a most intriguing photo.”

Will flipped it over to see if there was anything written on the back. 

“August Winthrop Graeme, 1875.” Will read aloud then turned the photograph back around to get a good look at the face of the man in the picture. His breath caught in his throat as he stared at someone that looked exactly like him.

“Wow, he looks like he could be your twin.” Abigail took the photo from Will’s hand and studied it closely. “You have the same eyes. Will, this could be an ancestor or something.” Abigail handed the photo back as she looked in Will’s eyes.

Hannibal peered over Will’s shoulder to look once more at the photo before he spoke.

“We should go through these and see if there are any more photographs of Mr. Graeme.”

Will took a deep breath and attempted to settle the sense of foreboding that had settled deep inside of him. Whoever this was, Will’s family through the ages buried any knowledge of who this was and how they were related. After a few minutes of looking, Abigail made a noise of excitement.

“Hey, I found another one. This one has August and another man.”

Will looked at the photo and almost lost his balance. Grabbing the edge of the display table, Will handed the photo to Hannibal with a shaking hand.

After the almost imperceptible shocked look on Hannibal’s face, he stared at Will for a moment. 

“This is unexpected.”

“What is going on?” Will was visibly shaken by the discovery. Setting both photos aside, the three of them began to frantically shuffle through all of the bins and boxes for the better part of two hours. By the time they exhausted everything, a small stack of photos had been found, all from the same era and Will assumed all from the same estate.

“We should do some research.” Will didn’t believe in coincidences, but this was too much even for him.

“I agree.”

Will paid for the photos, which had the clerk doing a double take. Thankfully she didn’t make comments as she handed Will the package. Will, Hannibal, and Abigail walked back to the hotel in silence. All three were lost in contemplation over their unexpected find.

Once back in their rooms, Will laid down on the chaise lounge and took a moment to gather his thoughts together.

“I can start an internet search if you want.” Abigail laid out on the bed while Hannibal sat in the reading chair looking through the photos.

“I think that is a very good idea Abigail. Just be careful.”

“Always.” 

“Doesn’t anyone else think this is all very strange? Photos that look like you and me are found in an old antique shop in a remote village in Switzerland. What are the chances? What does it mean?”

“I do not think we will get answers tonight, Will. I will procure dinner for us and then I suggest some rest.”

“Hannibal...” Will wondered but in reality didn’t want to know what Hannibal had planned.

“I assure you that I will purchase dinner from a restaurant. I have no wish to mar this charming village.”

Will knew in the last six months they had been travelling together that Hannibal had satisfied his baser urges, but he didn’t want to know. But, when Hannibal promised he wouldn’t cause harm, Will believed him. He knew it wouldn’t, and probably couldn’t last, but for now he would take Hannibal at his word.

Laughing softly to himself, he nodded, conveying to Hannibal that he believed Hannibal's promise.   

“I shall return soon.”

After Hannibal left, Abigail moved to sit next to Will.

“You believe him, don’t you.”

“Strangely enough I do. I think he genuinely loves this place and doesn’t want to scar it in any way.” Will turned to look at Abigail and noticed the laptop. “When did you get that?”

“I’ve had it since we left Baltimore. I had a lot of time on my hands and too much curiosity. Hannibal bought it for me and I learned how to navigate some of the darker parts of the internet.” Abigail made a gimmie gesture and Will handed her August’s photo. “Now, let’s see what we can find on August Graeme.”

Will stood so he could get the photos from where Hannibal had left them. He took his time looking through them and noticed the background was similar in a majority of the photos. He figured it was some estate that one of the men occupied. There was something almost timeless about the photos.

“Okay, we have his name and the date on the first photo you found. Is there any other information?”

Will sat down once again next to Abigail as he flipped the photos over to see if there was more written information.

“White Stag Manor.” Will’s breath once again let him. This couldn’t be a coincidence, could it? Had his subconscious been trying to tell him something about a past he had no knowledge of?

“Will?” Abigail laid a hand on Will’s arm which pulled him back to the present.

“Nothing. It’s ah, it’s nothing. Try White Stag Manor. The rest of the photos only have dates.”

“Okay, give me a few moments to see if anything pops.”

Will stood and walked towards one of the open windows and stared out at the early evening sky. Closing his eyes, Will began to attempt to center himself. Breathing deep he let his mind wander and get lost. He no longer fought the visions that came to him, but rather he had begun to embrace them as he had when he was incarcerated. 

The Stag was there. Standing tall and majestic, there was a feeling of anticipation. Where once the Stag would run, this time he approached moving closer towards Will. When he was almost within touching distance, the Stag disappeared. Will opened his eyes and where once he would have been shaken by the vision, he embraced it and the possibilities he envisioned before him.

Will turned and leaned against the window to look around him. The signs of the life he had been building with Hannibal and Abigail all around him. The fear and initial loathing he had felt when they first ran faded and were replaced by genuine feelings of love. Will crossed his arms and felt himself smile as he watched Abigail typing away on the computer, a feeling of wonder at the parental love he felt for the girl. Will let himself take in his surroundings and noticed just how his life had become irrevocably entwined with Hannibal’s. The fact that he fell so hard for Hannibal, Will knew he was lost, but he had also found himself. Found the real Will Graham that always lurked under the surface of his mental instability. 

Introspection had never been his strong suit, but after his incarceration, Will learned to turn his mind inwards more often and slowly over time released some of the anxieties that crippled him. His mental state wasn’t a hundred percent whole, he laughed at himself having fallen in love with a man who thought nothing of killing and eating people. But, maybe everything in his life had been leading him to the here and now. Something inside told him this felt right somehow.

“Hey! I think I’ve got something.” Abigail looked up with a look of excitement.

Will pulled out of his musings and went over to sit next to Abigail to see what she found.

“White Stag Manor is real, Will. It’s in England, but it’s real.”

“How is it this easy?”

“Well, finding the manor was easy. Finding anything about August has been rather elusive. I’ve found a lot of information on the Graeme family using White Stag as a starting point. But, every picture that I found is a version of everything we found at that antique shop.”

Will couldn’t help being frustrated. It wasn’t that he wasn’t patient. He was, he just wanted answers to all of the questions that had come up since finding those photos. Will needed something to settle him. He got up from his place next to Abigail and went to the little sitting room where a drink cart held a few bottles of alcohol that he had purchased over the few months they had been in Switzerland. Pouring a scotch for himself he left Abigail to the research.

“I had dinner.” Hannibal came through the door with bags of food in his hands. Will’s sense of relief was almost palpable. He knew Hannibal wasn’t going to harm anyone in the immediate future, but the anxiety was still there.

“Come, eat. You will be pleasantly surprised.” Will abandoned his place by the cart and moved to the table that served as their dining table. Big bowls of steaming soup were set about and in the middle of the table was a loaf of dark bread cut into thick slices, and sides of a cucumber salad Will had come to love. Hannibal called out to Abigail to join them at the table.

“We found something while you were gone.” Will took a bit of the barley soup and tried not to moan in pleasure at the taste.

“Oh? And what is it that you two found while I was out.”

Will swallowed before he spoke, “There was the name of a manor house called White Stag Manor.” Will kept eating, but looked at Hannibal with just his eyes to gauge his reaction. Hannibal held his spoon halfway to his mouth and looked back at Will.

“That is quite the coincidence.”

“I thought so.”

“Maybe all this time your subconscious was working on a different level than we knew.” Hannibal’s accent thickened and it gave Will pause. That usually only happened when Hannibal was either anxious or excited about something.

“Perhaps. I think we should go there. At least see the place. Maybe...” Will grabbed a piece of bread to give himself something for his hands to do. “Maybe it’ll help give me some perspective.”

Hannibal methodically ate while Abigail was silent. Will figured she was trying to understand the subtext of what Will and Hannibal weren’t saying. There was too much there to unpack for her, so Will decided to not say anything. 

Hannibal picked up his napkin and elegantly dabbed at the corners of his mouth, which had Will softly chuckling. Hannibal leaned back in the chair and let his gaze settle on Will a couple of moments before he spoke.

“I believe you may be right, Will. We will make arrangements.” Hannibal gave him a typical Hannibal smile, which still sometimes unsettled him, but he returned it and the two of them went back to eating. A short time later Hannibal had Abigail make the travel plans and they all packed up before heading to bed.

As Will laid there wrapped in Hannibal’s arms, Will felt a mix of excitement and uncertainty. Sleep eluded him for a time, but eventually he was able to calm his thoughts and fall into a light sleep filled with dreams of stags and strange lives he has never lived.

__________

Will had been nervous about leaving Switzerland, but was appalled at how easy it was for the three of them to get on a plane to England and no one even batted an eye. They barely disguised themselves, but Will almost laughed at how he got away with a full beard and different glasses. Abigail had cut her hair short and dyed it red, Hannibal let his hair grow longer, let his beard grow and added a pair of glasses. 

Getting off the plane and into a rental car Will programmed the GPS for the address of White Stag Manor in Shropshire. 

“LIke I said when we were still in Switzerland, August Graeme disappears from public records about five years after the picture we found was taken. I tried to find anything, but there’s nothing. You think he ran off with his lover?” Abigail’s scandalous tone had Will turning and looking at her with raised brows. He saw she was reading from some of the research they had printed out of everything they could find on August and his family connections.

Hannibal drove in silence, but when Will looked over at him he saw the just perceptible amusement on his face.

“I don’t know. And, we don’t know that they were lovers. We don’t even know his name.” 

Abigail got that dreamy look on her face that always unsettled Will. Leaving her to read through the research, Will turned back to stare at the road ahead, Will felt that all of this was a little too easy. He was always wary of when things went too easy.

The sun was setting by the time Hannibal pulled up to the hotel they were going to stay at during the evening. The plan was to head to White Stag Manor in the morning.

Dinner was quick because the exhaustion of travel caught up to all of them and sleep seemed like a good idea.

Morning came and Will and Hannibal wasted no time in getting ready for whatever was going to greet them when they made their way to the manor. Abigail was a little slower, but eventually they all piled back in the car with Hannibal driving once again.

The trip was done in near silence. The only voice they all heard was the GPS giving directions. Will’s anxiety slowly crept up on him the closer they got to the manor. When they finally made it up the long drive, they were met with a security gate. Hannibal pushed the button to speak with whoever was manning security.

“Yes, how can we help you.”

“You don’t know us, but I believe that the owners of this house would like to speak with my companion.”

“And why do you think my employer would do that?”

Will leaned over Hannibal so that his face would show on the security camera.

“My name is Will Graham, and I have a feeling your employer would very much like to speak with me.”

The guard was silent for a short time then came back.

“Yes, I have been informed to let you in. Just drive up to the front and the valet will deal with your vehicle.”

Hannibal nodded once, then as soon as the gate swung open he drove through. Parking in front of the rather large and imposing manor house, Will slowly exited the vehicle and took it all in. There was something niggling at the back of his head, but what it was he couldn’t voice it.

Hannibal and Abigail exited as well and stood on either side of Will, almost as if they were shoring him up for what was to come.

Together they approached the highly ornate double doors that opened up as soon as they took the first step up. There appeared a man who looked like he was in his early fifties. There was something of a resemblance around his eyes that had Will staring impolitely.

Clearing his throat to break Will from the spell, Hannibal began to introduce them. 

“I am sorry for our unexpected arrival, we were uncertain on how to make contact. Let me introduce ourselves. I am Hannibal Lecter, this is Will Graham, and the young woman is Abigail Hobbs.” 

Will and Hannibal had opted to go with their real names and would accept whatever consequences would come of that. Will just had a feeling that lying would have gotten them nowhere. 

“Yes, I can see why you might be interested in coming here. Frankly I am almost speechless, Mr. Graham. You are almost a carbon copy of my Great-Grandfather.” The man on the stairs looked as unsettled as William felt.

“My apologies, where are my manners, please come in.” Will, Hannibal, and Abigail made their way into the manor and stood in the foyer. “Let me introduce myself, I am Winston Augustus Graeme, and I think you need to see something.”

Will started to follow after Winston when a strange sensation of deja vu overtook him. He looked up to see that Winston was looking at him oddly.

“I...I’m sorry. I just had this strange sense of being here before.” Will looked up at Winston for a moment before he continued. “You’re heading to the family library.”

Winston’s shock was clearly evident on his face. “How on earth could you know that.”

“I just do.” Will took a step forward and let his instincts take over. Winston, thankfully didn’t try to stop him. It wasn’t long before Will walked through a library and stopped in shock. On the walls were pictures of the Graeme family going back a couple of centuries. There were several painted pictures of men that looked almost exactly like Will.

“Yes, rather startling isn’t it. The family had actually become worried when a child born did not look like, well, you. And judging by your accent, you are American.”

Will swallowed hard and took a few moments to settle. The comforting hand on his back let him know he wasn’t alone and Hannibal was right there. Even Abigail leaned against him, shoring him up even more.

“Yes. I ah, I’m from Virginia.”

“Ah, yes, yes. You must be descended from August.” Winston walked toward one of the lower shelves of a bookcase set in the back of the library. He then sat on one of the couches with a long coffee table in front of it. “Come here, and I’ll show you one of the many family journals.”

Will moved forward all though his feet felt leaden. There was some trepidation inside of him wondering what he was going to find.

“You too, Mr. Lecter, Miss Hobbs. Please have seats and I will have some coffee and something to eat brought in. Then, I think we should talk. Give me but a moment. You’re free to read while I order coffee service.” Winston moved away and Will, with a shaking hand, opened up the book that had been set down on the coffee table.

It looked like it had been copied from another text and professionally bound to preserve the history. Will ignored Hannibal and Abigail for the time being as he became immersed in the Graeme family history.

Winston came back and once more settled on the couch next to Will. When Will began to feel some tension in the air he looked up to see Winston and Hannibal staring at each other.

“What’s going on?” Will asked as his eyes darted between the two men.

“I apologize for the rudeness, but Will you are not the only one who bears a remarkable resemblance to persons from the past. Mr. Lecter, I must say you look exactly like a companion of my Great-Grandfather, August.”

Will set the book he was reading aside and reached into his coat pocket and produced the packet of photographs he had been carrying with him since leaving Switzerland.

“I think you need to see these. They were found in a small antique shop in Switzerland where the three of us were staying.”

Winston took the packet and looked through the photos.

“Isn’t this indeed strange. I’m not completely surprised. There was an incident a few years ago with a housekeeper that had to be let go. She stole quite a few items, including some family albums. You see there is rather a viable market for Victorian photographs. I’ve had the family solicitor working on tracking everything down, and these must have slipped through.”

Will wasn’t surprised. There was a market for just about anything and everything. Even things he didn’t want to think about. Hannibal’s proclivities were rather tame compared to some of what the FBI has investigated over the years. Will had come to the conclusion a long time ago that humans at their core were base creatures who sometimes gave into their base nature because there was something fundamentally wrong with humans in general.

Will was brought out of his musings when Winston handed back the photos.

“I must admit something, Will. You and your companions are not unknown to me. I have followed popular media from time to time. When I first saw your picture splashed across the newspapers, I was shocked at first. After your acquittal, I figured it was only a matter of time before we met.

“Whether that was having my solicitor reach out to you, or if you somehow learned about the family resemblance and came to me. When news reports reached me that you and Dr. Lecter here had disappeared, I bided my time.”

Before Will could speak, Hannibal began to ask questions.

“What is your intention, Mr. Graeme? Are you going to contact the authorities and have us taken into custody?”

Winston smiled as he stood up to greet the maid that had wheeled the coffee cart into the library. 

“Thank you, Greta. I appreciate this.”

“No problem, Sir. If you need anything else.”

“No, but I’ll let you know if we do.”

Winston took time to pour coffees and serve up scones and cream. Once he sat back down, he looked Hannibal right in the eye. Will had the sense that Winston could be just as dangerous as Hannibal, he just wasn’t sure how as of yet.

“Dr. Lecter, I shall do no such thing. Oh, I know all of the sordid details, but frankly I don’t care. Don’t get me wrong. I do feel compassion for the families of the people that died, but I have no interest in getting the authorities involved.”

“I see.” Hannibal appeared as confused as Will was currently feeling.

“May I ask why?” Will flat out asked.

“It is purely selfish on my part. You see, there are not many of us left. Oh, I have a few cousins that have been well compensated by the family trust and have no intention of any further contact. They are distant relatives that have no interest in any sort of familial relationship.

“You, Will, are obviously a direct relation. If I were a man given to fancy, I might even say you are the reincarnation of my Great-Grandfather. It’s uncanny not just your looks. There is an air about you that he had. Oh, I only knew him for a few short years as a child, but it was his eyes, the depth of soul behind them that has stayed with me all my life.”

Winston took a sip of coffee and took time to have a bite of scone before he continued.

“I will insist on a blood test. It can be done discreetly, but it would be necessary to prove you are a descendant.”

“Look, I didn’t come here for anything other than trying to find out what all of this meant.” Will waved the photos around emphasizing what he was saying.

“I believe you, Will. But, you are, obviously family, and that affords you some privileges. You’re a descendant of August, which means you have a direct claim on the estate.”

Will stood and began pacing the library.

“Might I suggest you read through the family diaries that have been preserved and take a few days to think about all of this. I give you the run of the estate. No place will be off limits. I have a few things that I need to do in London, so I will be leaving early in the morning to catch the train in, and I’ll be back later in the evening. I rather not drive the three and a half hours..”

“You are a very strange man, Mr. Graeme.” Will could tell Hannibal was suspicious.

“Yes, well when you’ve been alone most of your life, even the small hope for some family can make you do things you might not necessarily do otherwise. I will just caution you not to do anything to get you noticed. Lucky for you our closest neighbors are more than a mile down the road and we’re fairly closed off.”

Will took the warning for what it was. He had a feeling if Hannibal gave in to his murderous inclination, Winston would only extend his hospitality so far.

“Your generosity is appreciated and we promise to keep to ourselves.” Will pointedly looked at Hannibal who nodded his agreement.

“I’m sorry I haven’t answered all of your questions. But, I believe what you are looking for is in the journals. I now must take my leave as I have a lot of work to do prior to my trip in the morning. We shall dine together this evening? I usually have dinner around 7:30.”

Winston left them to their own devices after that. Will freshened up his coffee and settled in one of the reading chairs with the journal he had been given. Getting lost in the history of the Graeme family, Will didn’t pay attention to what Abigail and Hannibal were doing. 

Several hours later, Will felt a strong hand on his shoulder.

“It is time for dinner, Will.” 

“Oh, um I’ll be there in a few moments. You go without me.”

Will went back to reading the journal which had captured his fascination. August Graeme was a pathologist and special investigator for Scotland Yard.

__________

Will easily found his way to the dining room where Winston, Abigail, and Hannibal were already enjoying a bowl of soup.

“Will. Glad you could join us. Please have a seat.”

“Thank you Winston.” A bowl was placed in front of him, and Will drew in the smell which made his stomach growl. He had forgotten to eat lunch, he had been so engrossed in the journal. “I’ve read almost all of the way through the journal you left for me. I find it fascinating that August was a special investigator for Scotland Yard. Do you know what kinds of cases he investigated? Are there more journals?”

Winston set his spoon down and leaned forward. “There is actually a journal that discusses the cases he was often called out on.”

“I’d love to read that.”

“Will, he investigated what we now call serial killers. He had an unusual gift, as he called it. August had a sort of empathy where he could get into the mind of the killer.”

Will leaned back in his chair and stared down at the table cloth. Winston continued speaking and Will tried to keep his attention on what he was saying.

“In fact, doing research into family history, it seems that this has been a trait that many of the men in our family have inherited. The unfortunate part is that they were thought to be mad and were forced to stay within the manor, or forced into asylums after the 1700’s.

“If you want to learn more, after dinner I will show you where the rest of the known journals are kept.”

“Thank you, I appreciate it.”

Will’s mind was spinning and he ate in silence as he tried to dissect all of the information he had learned that day. Conversation happened around him as dinner progressed. After dinner, Winston showed Will the shelf with the rest of the journals. Once more, Will let himself get lost in reading about the history of a family he never knew existed for him. 

“Will, you need to sleep. I believe this has been a rather unusual day and we should get some rest.” Hannibal had pulled him out of his thoughts and laid a gentle hand on his face.

Setting the journal aside, Will’s head swam with so much information he was having a difficult time filtering it all out. Walking ahead of Hannibal, Will let his feet move him along with hardly a thought to where he was going. When he entered a bedroom he stopped and looked around. Everything was familiar when it shouldn’t be.

“Will?”

Turning to Hannibal, Will took a few deep breaths as he leaned against one of the posts of the bed, running his hand over the silky, polished wood.

“I know this place, Hannibal. I know this place like I know Wolf Trap. I don’t just mean I have impressions, I know this place.

Will could see that Hannibal didn’t actually have anything to say. “I’m going to try to get some sleep. Tomorrow I want to see how much of this house I recognize.”

“All right. We’ll rest tonight then try to figure this all out tomorrow.”

“Yeah. Yeah, sounds good.”

Will made his way back to the foyer where someone had left their luggage. He grabbed his and went back to the bedroom that he had been drawn towards. Sleep, Will knew was going to elude him. He had too much information swimming in his head as he crawled into bed. Not even Hannibal wrapping around him in that familiar comfort helped him fall asleep. It was going to be a long night, Will just hoped that he would be able to find some answers in the morning.

__________

Will rose early in the morning and decided to tour the manor. Every room and every hallway it was like he could see it in his mind. He had vague impressions of past occupants. It was unsettling at best, and downright frightening at worst. He was never one to believe in things like reincarnation, but any other explanation made no sense. Will came to the conclusion that he was or rather had been August Winthrop Graeme.

Returning to his room, Will quietly grabbed a jacket and pulled on his boots so he could explore the outside. Leaving from a side door off the kitchen, Will closed his eyes and took in the scents and feel of the surrounding grounds. The wild woods gave him a sense of comfort. They reminded him a little of Wolf Trap. 

Opening his eyes, Will stepped off the porch and began walking the grounds. The air was crisp and cool, he wished he had thought to bring a thermos of coffee, but didn’t want to stop him momentum to return to the house to make some.

Will began to settle in a way he hadn’t been in far too long. He remarked once more to himself that there was a comfort to this place, the house, the woods, and grounds that he had only ever felt at Wolf Trap.

Letting his mind go and his feet take him along, Will found the kennels. He could see them in his mind, filled with foxhounds, and terriers. Letting himself into the kennels, Will saw a few dogs there. As he walked through, he was greeted by a mix of dogs. A bull terrier, and Irish Setter, several labradors, and a cocker spaniel. 

“Hey, look at you guys.” Will got down on a knee and introduced himself to each of the dogs. They looked well cared for. Someone loved these animals. 

“Pretty great, aren’t they?”

Will looked up to see who was speaking. The woman smiled and came over to pet the dogs next to Will.

“They are. They look well cared for.”

“Aye, they should. I’ve been caring for Mr. Gareme’s pups for a few years now.” The Irish lilit in the woman’s voice charmed Will. “I’m Hannah Wells, Mr. Graeme’s Gamesperson. I take care of the pups here, as well as the horses and the few barn cats.”

“Nice to meet you Hannah. I’m Will.”

“Yes, Mr. Gareme mentioned house guests. He let me know to let you have the run of the place.”

Will was once again shocked at the generosity of Winston. 

“Do you let them out to run?”

“Aye, I go riding a couple times a day and let the pups here run with me.” Hannah smiled as he scratched behind the ear of the spaniel. Will was caught by that smile. “Do ye ride at all, Mr. Graham?”

“Please, call me Will. And, I did a long time ago.”

Standing up, Hannah offered her hand to Will.

“I was about to take Mariah out. Would you like to join me?”

Will stood and took a moment to think about it. He didn’t say anything, just walked towards the horse barn and went inside. He saw there were four horses, one was a dappled mare that immediately came closer and hung her head outside of the stall.

“Ahh, Shilo, she seems to like you. She rarely shows herself such. Shy one, that. I reckon she’d let you ride her, which would be quite the treat.”

Will slowly lifted his hand and gently scratched behind Shilo’s ear. She whinnied softly and moved even closer, nuzzling against Will’s head. Laughing at the antics of the mare, Will felt something loosen up inside of him. He couldn’t put a name to what it was, but it felt like another broken piece healed.

Turning to Hannah, Will was once again charmed by her smile. 

“I think I would like that.”

Getting Shilo saddled was almost second nature. Will had only been riding as a kid a few times, but this felt like another memory of August’s past. After walking the horse out of the barn, Hannah let the now excited dogs loose from the main kennel area. Getting up on the horse, Will let Hannah lead, and after a few minutes of a slow walk to get him used to being up on Shilo, they began an easy trot. Will let himself get lost in the freedom of the ride.

When they came back to the manor a couple of hours later, Will felt exhilarated. Taking Shilo back to the barn, he rubbed her down and threw a blanket on her to slowly cool her down. Hannah didn’t even need to tell him what to do.

“I think ye know more about horses that ye let on. Yer a natural.”

Will wasn’t about to tell her of his theory, or the memories that kept assaulting his mind of August. Will finished brushing out Shilo’s mane before leading her to her stall and laying fresh hay. It looked like it had recently been mucked out.

“It’s like the old saying goes, it’s like riding a bike, you never forget how.”

“Hmm, or it could just be the Gareme family legacy.”

Will stopped in his tracks to look back at Hannah. “I’m sorry?”

“I’m not a fool, Will Graham. Ye are the spittin’ image of those paintings in the main library. Most especially August. Now, I’m not a woman given to fancy, but I’ve see those paintings enough times since working for Mr. Graeme.”

“Please, I’m still trying to wrap my head around all of this.” Will stepped out of the barn and into the fresh still morning air. “This all started with finding a photograph in a small Swiss Antique shop. And, now living almost a dream.”

Hannah moved to stand next to Will. “Ye have made Mr. Graeme rather excited. I worry for him being all alone up in that house. When he came to see me, it was like a cloud had been lifted from him. Just, don’t hurt him. He’s a good man.”

Will turned his head to look Hannah in the eyes. “I have no intention to hurt him, Hannah. I’m just trying to understand something about myself that I never knew existed until recently.”

“Good. Now, I think ye be wantin’ breakfast, and I’ve got some work to do.”

Will laughed softly before he left Hannah and the dogs to make his way back to the house. Entering in the door to the kitchen, Will smelled something delicious. He wasn’t all of the surprised to see Hannibal at the stove.

“Cooking breakfast?”

“I asked the chef if he would mind and then he let me have the run of the kitchen.” Frowning, Hannibal looked Will up and down. “You smell like animals.”

“I was out riding. Winston has horses and dogs.”

“I see. Will this be a regular occurrence?”

“Yes, I think it might.”

“Then I believe a shower is in order. Breakfast will be ready when you’re done.”

Will moved towards Hannibal and backed him up against a counter. 

“Hmm, you’re annoyed.”

Hannibal attempted to act casual, but Will knew for a fact the man was indeed upset.

“You left our bed and didn’t let me know where you were going. I worried.”

Will leaned in and nipped at Hannibal’s mouth before placing a quick kiss then backing off.

“Did you think I left?”

Hannibal actually looked scared which was a new one for Will. However over the last few months he had come to learn all of Hannibal’s tells. The man always tried to hide behind a veneer of polish and refinement. But, deep down Hannibal still had all of the emotions that every human experienced, he just handled them differently. 

“I didn’t think you left, but I didn’t know where you were. We have to watch our for each other Will.”

“Yes, we do.” Will knew that his relationship with Hannibal was always going to be like living on a knife’s edge. But, he had fallen far enough down the rabbit hole, he didn’t care. He learned how to balance on that edge and if he ever fell off, it would be of his own doing.

“I’ll be back. Where’s Abigail?”

“She’s in the library on her computer.” Will noticed that Hannibal was unsettled and that put a bounce in Will’s step. The rules were changing between them as Will came ever closer to healing his mind, and finding that center he had lost.

__________

Time slipped by quickly and before Will knew it, three months had passed. Winston had become somewhat of a father figure to Will and a someone they could trust. 

Blood tests had been taken and Will’s familial connection had been verified. Slowly he had been introduced to the what businesses the Graeme family had been involved in. Mostly it had been in banking and land ownership. Several buildings in London were owned by the trust, including businesses and apartments.

There was also horse and dog breeding that brought in quite a high dollar value. Shilo and Mariah were prized mares that had bred winning track horses. The three males had also been selectively bred. That was part of Hannah’s job. Winston did not want to get into the business of horse racing, he found it too risky. 

Will found himself interested in the dog breeding and Hannah was teaching him everything he wanted to know. He could see himself comfortable at White Stag Manor, living a quiet country life. He was worried about Hannibal and if the man could truly master his urges. Abigail had become fascinated with the banking and business ventures. Winston patiently taught her and seemed genuinely happy that someone could potentially carry on everything he had built up after taking over as head of the family business and trust.

After his ride that morning, Will walked into the house and took his shower before making his way to the kitchen to see what was available for breakfast. The chef left them to their own devices for breakfast, but often had food ready made for lunch. Easy fare they could all partake of when they wanted. Dinner was always made by the Chef, who was adamant that was his domain.

Will entered the kitchen and saw Hannibal leaning against a counter sipping coffee. There was a strange feeling in the air and Will knew that whatever mood this was, it wasn’t good.

“Hannibal, everything all right?”

“You seem to be spending a lot of your time with Ms. Wells, Will.” The hard look in Hannibal’s eyes had Will thinking back to almost a year prior before they went on the run. There was a predatory look the Will knew well.

“Are you jealous, Hannibal?”

Hannibal took a few steps forward and stopped so close to Will that there was barely any room between them.

“Remember, Will. You are mine. You’re my creation and will always belong to me.”

Will felt the feral smile form and his eyes hardened.

“Hannibal. I stopped being what you made me months ago. I’ve learned more about who I am and in these last few months. I can stand on my own. I love you, but know this, I no longer have the overwhelming need I used to have. This is my design now. Not yours.

“And, a warning. You harm one hair on Hannah’s head and I will end you.” Will was proud of the conviction in his voice which had Hannibal taking a step back. 

“Will. I just don’t want to lose you.” The vulnerability in Hannibal’s voice had Will reaching out and cupping Hannibal’s face.

“You won’t lose me Hannibal. I’m right here. It’s your choice whether you want to accept the changes or not. I’m taking Winston up on his offer to stay. And, you’ll find that Abigail wants to stay as well. It’s up to you what you want. But, you have to want to be with us. We can’t stop you whatever you decide. And, I know that you’ll control yourself for as long as you can, but eventually you’ll fall. When you do, we’ll still be here.”

Will didn’t let Hannibal respond as he went to the refrigerator and pulled out a smoothie he had premade before going on his ride. Walking away was no longer difficult for Will. He refused to let himself feel guilt anymore. He would do whatever he needed to protect what he found here at White Stag.

Will found Abigail in the library with Winston teaching her another aspect of the family businesses.

“Ah, Will. How are you this morning?”

“I’m doing really good. Winston, I haven’t thanked you enough for your generosity. I know this has all been as strange for you as it has been for us, but you’ve given me something I never really had before.”

“And what is that?”

“Family.”

Abigail looks up at Will with a smile that had been missing since Will had killed her father to save her life.

“Yes. I feel it too. When I lost my father and learned what he was, I felt like my life ended. I was just going with what everyone else told me I should do, but having Will, you, and even Hannibal in my life I’ve found purpose again.

“I think...I think I’m going to write my own story. You were right Will, Freddie didn’t have my best interests at heart. I need to do it myself and any money I want to give to the families that were hurt by my father.” Abigail had a confidence about her that was new and it made Will proud.

“I am happy you’re both staying. I’ve been given a gift as well.” Winston was a man of few words, but when he spoke it was often heartfelt. Will had come to know the man meant what he said. 

There was still a lot to work out, and Will was slowly coming to terms that there was something more going on beyond his comprehension, but his life had taken strange turns. To have the time to settle and find a new path was priceless to him.

“Oh, Will, did you ever find out who the man was that looks like Hannibal?” Abigail asked while she typed away.

“I did.” Will felt more than saw Hannibal enter the library and moved to sit down in one of the reading chairs.

“His name was Heinrich Lechtor. Come to find out he was a serial killer.”