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Child of Kairos

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Will stood outside of Dr. Lecter's large house in Baltimore. It was a miserable winter's night. Sleet pelted him and the cold buried itself into his bones.He felt the numbness in his hands and toes the most.The panic, he felt when he regained conscience at the crime scene, returned as he looked at Hannibal’s home. What happened? How was going to explain this? Questions still yet to be answered slipped like a shadow out of his mind. It was curiously foggy from the events of that afternoon.


 

 Jack called him in for a case that was located at an abandoned theme park. The crime was ghastly, as expected, heightened by the creepy vibe of the park itself. Will remembered giving his assessment of the scene and the killer's state of mind. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he felt he needed to look around the buildings. Something was uniquely off about this killer. The killing was juvenile yet sophisticated. The juxtaposition made Will feel unhinged, like the Lost Boys case.

 Will walked around looking at the broken rides when he saw something in the corner of his eye. It flew out from the carousel into the fun house. That's not creepy at all, his brand of acerbic thought lashed out  as he rubbed the goose-fleshed skin on his arms. He popped his neck as he flexed it side to side.Will eyes swept the area one more time for possible unknowns delaying the tug that he had to go inside. He took in a cold misty breath before heading up the groaning stairs of the attraction. Once inside the door, Will took out his flashlight. He unsnapped his holster, laying his hand lightly on the pistol's grip. Will’s eyes adjusted to the dark surroundings. A noise caught his attention. He turned to find a small little girl with blonde hair in ringlets looking into a mirror. She smiled as she laughed at her reflection. When she noticed Will looking at her, she scuttled away.

 "Hey!" he yelled as his eyes tried desperately to locate the girl.

 

Will ran after her reflection in the mirrors. His attention distracted by the girl’s reflection, Will ran directly into mirror.He stopped and turned, looking at his own reflection multiplied fifty times. He was trapped in the maze of mirrors. Anxiety began to rise the longer he searches for the little girl. He stopped for a moment bending to catch his breath. Will felt his phone vibrate.

 

He pulled it out to read the text.

 

Where are you? Jack

 

Will muttered to himself, wiping the sweat from his face. He hit a button to reply when the little girl's reflection seemed to apparate out of nothing.  Will was able to see her clearly now. Her dress looked like a little sailor dress discolored by age. Her socks were dirty and her shoes scuffed. She cocked her head like a psychiatrist friend of his.

 

"Come play with me!"

 

"Hey! Stay where you are. Are you lost?"

 

Will shoved the phone into his jacket pocket as he stepped in the direction of the girl. She laughed and took off again. This time he saw her physical form not just a reflection. He jogged after her when she suddenly stood still. Will slowed to a brisk walk as he headed down the hall toward the girl. Will heard the creaking of the boards before he sensed the floor caving in. He propelled himself forward, but the last minute momentum was not enough to reach the other side. His body twisted like a cat to land on his feet, but he felt his hip hit a pile of debris before he slipped into the abyss of unconsciousness.

 

The next thing Will recalled his eyelashes heavy with thick dust fluttered open. He sees his flashlight, the light bouncing off the wall, in the corner of wherever he landed. He patted his pockets looking for his phone, but it wasn’t there. Will sat up, he felt odd. When the room stopped spinning he stood and his pants fell down to his ankles. Will blinked and then impatiently rubbed away the dust from his eyes. What the hell? he thought as he looked down at his fallen jeans.

 

Will lifted his arms but found his hands hidden by the very long sleeves if his green jacket. What had happened when he was out? Did someone replace his clothing? That thought was even too insane for Will to actually consider true. He needed to get out here, then ask questions. He grimaced as he bent down to pull them up. Will heaved his oversized pants up as he tried to simultaneously grasp the material of his shirt to use as an anchor for his hand. His coat sleeves cover the top of his hand.  His brow furrowed in annoyance of the new incumbent. Will stumbled his way to the flashlight and on out the door.

 

While grasping  his jeans, he walked around a corner to encounter more mirrors.  Normally Will avoided mirrors, they remind him too much of eyes, but this time he looked to assess any damaged from the fall.  Standing before him was a little boy. Not the little blonde haired girl, but a small boy with thick chestnut curls and big blue eyes. His lip is bleeding. Will licked his lips watching the boy do the same and he feels the sting from the cut. He hisses while the boy puts a finger to his lips as Will does the same. His eyes widen as the boy gasped.

 

"Son of a bitch!"

 

Will curses, but his voice is no longer deep. It is lilting with soft vowels. He is the boy in the mirror. What the hell happened to me? he thought as his calm turned to panic. Will muttered to himself his name and his location until the repetition grounded him into this odd moment.He walked forward to touch the smooth cold mirror.He was fingertip to fingertip with a self he never thought he would ever encounter again.The boy in the mirror looked small, vulnerable and insignificant. Will swallowed, he pushed his lips into a firm hard line; he had too much to do to be pulled down by self-pity now.

 

Will planned what he needed to do. The first thing he needed was to get out of there and find the team. When Will emerged from the building, the afternoon had turned pitch black, and everyone was gone. The only remnants left of the FBI presence was the yellow tape left behind. Will pursed his lips, wondering how long he had been out. The scene should have taken longer to process.

The hair on the back of his neck stood up—he could feel someone was watching him. But who? The little girl? He knew he did not want to find out while he was so vulnerable. Will started to stumble and walk to the park exit.

 

With his phone missing, Will cannot phone a cab. If he contacted the police, would they believe him? He could wind up in the care of Children's Services, that is another headache he did not need. Will trudged in the direction of the one place he knew he could find unorthodox help.


 

 So here he stands in front of Lecter's house. Drenched and miserable.

 

“I am probably going to get sick,” he thought.

 

Will wiped his nose with his sleeve. He squinted, looking up at the dark house. Will listened for anyone moving within it. Will stood up on his tiptoes to see if he could see anything.  He lowered back down, looking at the windows praying a light comes on. Nothing. Will sighed. He stretched up and pushed the doorbell several times before holding it down on the last push. Now that does the trick. Lights came on as thundering steps are heard.

 

Will should feel bad, but he doesn't as exhaustion engulfs him. The door was yanked open and Will heard a growl as Hannibal looked around. Will reached up and tugged Hannibal’s pant leg to get his attention. Hannibal startled, looking down where he felt the tug.  He saw a small and wet, no drenched, little boy with hair that looked black and blue eyes. The weight of the wet oversized clothing pulled the boy's shoulders down. Hannibal tilted his head in a groggy confusion.

 

"Yes?"

 

The boy frowned, shivering from the temperature.  He glanced around uncomfortably and finally made brief eye contact with Hannibal.

 

"I think I lost more than time, Dr. Lecter. I didn't know where else to go."

 

Hannibal's widened slightly as he recognized his nonpatient.

 

"Will, is that you?"

 

Will shivered violently, making his teeth chatter. He nodded in a jerky fashion. Hannibal shook his head as if trying to clear it of all the curious questions that formed. Now was not the time for that. He stepped back, waving Will inside. Will stumbled over the entry way over his too large shoes.

 

Hannibal dropped down to a knee. He removed Will's water spattered glasses and looked at the boy's face. His lips were blue and his skin pale. Acting quickly, Hannibal scooped up Will into his arms. The boy gave a surprised gasp. Hannibal carried Will swiftly up the stairs.

 

"I am sorry for the sudden touch, but you are experiencing hypothermia. There is no time to waste to get you warmed up. I am afraid I will have to take more liberties because of the state that you are in at the moment.”

 

Will blinked before he began to shake again. Hannibal walked swiftly straight through master bedroom into the bathroom. He set Will onto the toilet and started to run a bath.  Hannibal removed the clothing that was dripping water onto the tile floor. Will looked away blushing, but was unable to protest Hannibal stripping him bare.

 

Hannibal tested the water making sure it was not too hot. He then picked Will up and set the boy into the tub. Will hissed from the shock of warm water. His limbs quaked from the temperature change.

 

"It stings!"

 

Will attempted to stand, but he was kept in the water by firm, gentle hands. Will kicked his legs splashing the water out of the tub onto Hannibal.

 

"William! Stop! You must stay in the water to warm your core temperature. If you keep splashing, I will spank you."

 

Will stopped thrashing at Hannibal's stern and abrupt command.  Hannibal picked up a small cup to pour water over his head.

 

"Did you just threaten to spank me, Dr. Lecter?"

 

Will asked with an amused tone to his childish voice. Hannibal ceased what he is doing. He looked down at Will and huffed a surprised laugh.

 

"I did actually. I apologize for that. I don't know what came over me."

 

A childish giggle escaped Will's lips as he shivered again.

 

"Well, I was told I could be a difficult boy."

 

Hannibal rubbed shampoo into Will's hair.

 

"I believe all children can be difficult at times"

 

Will hummed in agreement as his eyes closed. He felt exhausted mentally and physically. He felt the warm water flowing down his head as it rinsed the shampoo out. Hannibal lathered up a washcloth rubbing Will’s upper body gently. An action to have something to occupy Hannibal’s hands and Will’s attention as his body temperature started to rise. Will offered no explanation of what had transpired that night. Hannibal made no inquiry. He knew Will would tell him when Will was ready.

 

When Hannibal deemed Will’s body temperature to a safer point, he grabbed a couple of towels from the linen closet. He pulled the plug and lifted Will out of the tub onto the bath mat. He wrapped Will in a soft, fluffy towel.  With the other, he briskly dried Will's hair.

 

"I could get out of the tub myself."

 

"Will you are barely three feet tall and my tub is very deep. You would have found it difficult."

 

"I was always small for my age until high school."

 

Will's look is nostalgic before a sigh followed. Hannibal picked up Will to take him to the bedroom. Will crossed his arms and jutted his lip out.

 

"Now you are being ridiculous. I can walk."

 

Hannibal walked into the bedroom and placed Will on the bed. The man smirked in amusement.

 

"Do you find me funny Dr. Lecter?"

 

Hannibal opened his dresser looking for something Will could wear. He looked over his shoulder at the boy who had an incredulous look on his face.  He smiled wider.  Closing the dresser drawer he walked to the bed.

 

"Well.  You are..."

 

"What?"

 

"Very cute when you are angry."

 

"You are not amusing. Hey… just a minute!"

 

While Will was speaking, Hannibal placed a long sleeved t-shirt over his head.  He then lifted up Will's foot to add slip socks over them, but Will's small hand snatched the socks away.

 

"I can dress." the boy grumbled.

 

Hannibal simply observed Will pull the large white athletic socks up. The tops landed at mid thigh.

 

"They may be large but they will keep you warm until we find some clothing that will fit better. Now under the covers."

 

If Will had not started to tremble from the cold again, he would have refused to get under the covers that Hannibal held up. Instead, he obediently slipped underneath them and Hannibal actually tucked him in. Will frowned his disapproval of the obvious fragile teacup treatment. Hannibal looked down at two blue eyes barely peeking out from his bedcovers. Schooling his expression to a pleasant host but his eyes displaying mirth Hannibal clasped his hands together.

 

"I will bring you something warm to drink and then off to sleep. I hope you won't be sick."

 

Will sighed, "I won't get sick."

 

Hannibal turned, leaving Will in the bed. Will snuggled down lower. His thoughts turned to the case and his new predicament. He hoped this was some dream or hallucination. If not, he prayed it was temporary. He thought about his dogs. Will would need to call someone to feed them tomorrow.

 

A few minutes later, Hannibal glided into the room with a steaming mug. Will sighed in expected bliss of Hannibal’s coffee. The man did make the best coffee. He felt his mouth watering.  Will sat up reaching for the mug Hannibal placed in his hands.

 

Will looked into the mug as he blew across the liquid. He took a sip as Hannibal went into the bathroom to change out of wet pajamas from the bath he gave Will. The older man walked into the bedroom and noticed Will was not drinking his beverage.

 

"You need to drink that, Will."

 

"It's hot chocolate! I am not a child, Hannibal."

 

Hannibal raises a pale eyebrow. Will groaned.

 

"Okay, maybe at this moment in time I am. I really appreciate everything you are doing for me. I don’t want to be ungrateful but..."

 

" You're welcome, Will. But children do not need caffeine, especially at night. Now drink. It will help warm and relax you.I even put whip cream on it."

 

Hannibal slipped under the covers watching as Will quietly drank his cocoa. He did like whip cream but he wasn’t going to verbally acknowledge that right now with Hannibal looking so smug. When the boy was done, he handed Hannibal the mug and slipped down lower under the covers.  He closed his eyes.

 

"Thanks and good night Dr. Lecter."

 

"Good night Will."


 

 

 Hannibal read for a while. He glanced over at Will’s sleeping form.  He was positively angelic. With the fullness of childhood and soothing sleep, he looked cherubic.  Hannibal gently ran his fingers through chestnut curls. Will was so small. His skin pale and unmarked by life. He was too skinny for his age. Hannibal could count his ribs and the knobs of his spine. Though not versed in pediatric medicine, Hannibal estimated Will's age to be five or six.

 

Will was the type of child that adults would want to hold and protect.  Hannibal turned his attention back to his iPad searching for any phenomena that may have caused this transformation.

 

Hannibal's subtle plan for fostering dependence would be easier by good fortune through this bizarre circumstance. Will would need someone to help him. He would be resistant but in his limited physical state in the adult world, assistance would be necessary.

 

Hannibal smiled before putting away his iPad turning out the light.

Will groggily glanced around at his surroundings. He felt hungover. He blinked his eyes as he slipped off the bed. In the bathroom, he discovered the countertop was out of reach for him. Will sighed heavily. He was still a child.

 

He finished his morning ritual as best he could. Will tugged the huge socks up his legs again before heading downstairs. He thumped all the way down. And found Hannibal cooking breakfast in the kitchen.

 

"Good morning William."

 

"Good Morning."

 

Will walked over to the kitchen island. He pulled out a bar stool which scraped across the floor, sounding like nails on a chalkboard. With an exasperated sigh, he climbed up the stool to find Hannibal staring at him. Will blushed and mumbled an apology.  Hannibal placed a plate with pancakes in front of him. Will grunted as he poured syrup on them.

 

"What would you like to drink?"

 

"Coffee."

 

"I don't think your body will handle that well."

 

"Hannibal... please coffee."

 

Hannibal merely nodded in acquiescence.

 

Will tucked into the pancakes. He nodded his thanks, taking the coffee from Hannibal. He took a sip and grimaced. Will squinted his eyes and shook his head. He opened his eyes to find Hannibal smiling at him.

 

"Something wrong?"

 

"No, it's just stronger than usual."

 

"No. It's the same. Children's palettes are usually more sensitive than adults.  I could add some cream or sugar, if you would like."

 

Will handed over the mug.  After doctoring the coffee, Hannibal sat down beside Will and enjoyed his own breakfast. They sat in companionable silence for a bit before being interrupted by a knock at the door. Hannibal left the kitchen, popping his head back in only a few moments later.

 

"I have some clothing for you when you are ready to dress. I also called someone to check on and feed your pack."

 

"Thanks. Clothing?"

 

"I had my personal shopper pick up a few things for you."

 

"You have a personal shopper?"

 

"Doesn't everyone?"

 

Will shrugged a shoulder.  It could be possible, but unlikely everyone had a personal shopper. Hannibal left the kitchen to put the bags in a more appropriate location. Will left his empty plate, too curious to put it in the sink, he discovered Hannibal in the living room. Contents of several bags were laid out on the furniture.

 

"I thought you said a few?" Will's eyes look around out the display of various garments. He wondered how much this would cost him.

 

"I did. You need everything, Will. From undergarments, pants, shirts, coats, shoes...etc."

 

Hannibal pulled together a few items, laying them out for Will to choose. Indicative of boy's clothing there are several shirts with puppies, trucks, and superheroes. Will is just thankful none of it is a velvet suit or a sailor outfit complete with ridiculous hat. Will picked up one shirt with a puppy peeking out of the pocket and a pair of jeans.

 

"I told Jack we would stop by this afternoon."

 

"Why this afternoon?"

 

"I have clients."

 

"Couldn't we wait to tell Jack? Give it a day or two go away?"

 

Will's voice sounded hopeful but wary. He knew that waiting to tell Jack was not a viable option but he was filled with anxiety about the encounter. Will did nothing to bring this predicament on himself but thinking about Jack frightened him a little.

 

Hannibal crouched down to look Will in the eyes. "We have to tell them. You know Uncle Jack won't leave you alone till hears from you. I'll be there with you.  I won't let Jack do anything to you."

 

The boy looked away quickly. His impossibly long lashes skim his flushed cheeks.

 

"I know. I'm fine. I just feel funny. Are you picking me up after your sessions?"

 

Will pulled on a pair of briefs underneath the shirt Hannibal loaned him. He then replaced the socks.

 

"No, you will go with me. I'm sure I can find something to occupy you."

 

Will pulled up jeans. Hannibal helped him pull the oversized night shirt off. Will automatically raised his arms as Hannibal pulled the shirt down over his slender shoulders.

 

"I can stay here. I promise no wild parties, Daddy."

 

Hannibal chuckled.

 

"I know. But you are too small to be by yourself."

 

Will rolled his eyes. He looked for a pair of tennis shoes among the several pairs of shoes. He grunted in approval when he unearthed a pair of high top Converse shoes.

 

"Okay.  I can read or something."

 

"I will go get ready for the day."

 

Will laced up the shoes as Hannibal headed upstairs. Will pawed through the items looking for a coat and gloves. He finds two coats; one more casual than the other. The hat he finds has a puppy face on the front with matching paw mittens.  He shook his head, promising his future son that he would never make him wear anything like this. Will opened another bag and found two stuffed dogs.

 

Will glanced around the room, double checking that Hannibal wasn’t lurking in some corner to watch him and that he was alone. Will returned to where the animals laid. With a hesitant finger, he stroked the soft fur.  He smiled in spite of himself, silently naming each of them.

 

Will placed the dogs off to the side and shifted through the other garments. In another bag, he found some small toys like blocks, hot wheels, and a LeapPad. Hannibal must have told the shopper to find things for an actual child. Will's eyes kept straying to the stuffed dogs. One of them looked like one he had as a child. Will had possessed so little that he still remembered every toy he had growing up.

 

The urge to cuddle it was strong, but he refused to give in to it. Instead, he carefully grasped the ear, rubbing it softly between the pads of his fingers.  A throat cleared and Will jumped, pulling his hand behind his back as though he had touched something forbidden.  He looked at Hannibal with a neutral expression.

 

"I am ready now. I see Anita included some toys as well. She is very thoughtful."

 

Will hummed in agreement and quickly grabbed his coat and hat as he followed Hannibal out the door.


 

Hannibal smiled at a grumpy Will Graham riding in the back his car. The profiler had rolled his eyes when Hannibal directed him to the back car door but was outraged when he discovered a car seat to boot. He protested, but when Hannibal would not relent, Will begrudgingly climbed into the seat. He had pointedly ignored Hannibal ever since.

 

He knew Will would love the stuffed dogs. He asked Anita, his personal shopper, to include them as well as a few small toys. Hannibal is curious to see if Will’s adult mind will over power Will’s child biology. Would Will regress into a childlike thinking and behavior?. Will had already demonstrated a few childish traits, but that did not prove anything. Will was always petulant.

 

Hannibal was on pins and needles to see what Jack Crawford had to say about his star profiler. There would be no way the FBI could allow a "child" at a crime scene.


 

Will grumpily unbuckled the car seat when they arrived at Hannibal's office. He knew the law required children to ride in a car seat but he is not a child. He just inhabits a child's body at that moment.  During the car ride, he had decided he would use the time at Hannibal’s office to research any possible solution to fix this mess.

 

Hannibal unlocked the front door and ushered Will inside. Will followed the man into his main office. Hannibal took his coat and hung it with his.

 

"Would you like to find a book to read or do you want to draw something?"

 

Will's eyebrows shot up.

 

"I thought about doing research online but if that is not possible, then I will read a book.” He climbed the ladder and looked through Hannibal’s books on the occult.

 

“Where will I be waiting?"

 

Hannibal shuffled files together, reviewing his appointment book to see his schedule for today.

 

"In the waiting room. These sessions are closed. You understand of course?"

 

Will climbed down the ladder with a couple of books precariously carried underneath his arm.

 

"Of course."

 

Will walked into the waiting room. He moved a chair where it was more isolated from the others. Will sat down, opening the book as Hannibal closed his office door. Will’s legs dangled from the chair, unable to reach the floor. He swung them back and forth feeling anxious and "wound up" for some reason.

 

A woman arrived shortly after and took a seat opposite of Will. She grinned as she stared at him. He could feel his ears burning. He looked up and his eyes caught hers. He ducked his head quickly.

 

To Will’s relief, Hannibal opened the door. The woman gathered her things and approached Hannibal for her appointment. She paused by the door looking back at Will then to Hannibal.

 

"Is he yours Dr. Lecter? He is so sweet and shy."

 

"No. I am afraid not. I am looking after him for a while."

 

"He's a beautiful child."

 

"He is indeed."

 

Will looked up, glaring at Hannibal's smirk. The man closed the door and Will was thankfully alone. He read for a few minutes before he needed to get up and move around. The caffeine hit hard. Will loathed admitting Hannibal was right. It was too much for this small body. He sighed bouncing from heel to toe and looking out the window.


 

 After a couple of hours, Will’s stomach growled. He frowned at himself. He normally was never hungry this early in the day.  A portly man entered the waiting room. His excitement and nervousness rolled off him in waves. It compounded with Will's restlessness. It didn't help that the man stared openly at him.  It must have been one of Hannibal’s full days because several people came and went in succession with no break in between.Most patients, that waited, glanced his way before looking elsewhere. Or, at least, if they did stare, they tried to be discreet. This man was blatant in his curiosity about Will. Will's skin prickled enough where he could not stand it.

 

"You know it's rude to stare." he said, lifting his eyes from his book.

 

The man fidgeted before grinning.

 

"Sorry, it is rude. I think I've seen you before."

 

"Nope. I would have remembered."

 

Will looked back down at the book. Usually, his prickly demeanor deterred any further conversation but this man is not easily dissuaded.

 

"My name is Franklyn. What's your name?"

 

"Will," he answers surly without looking up.

 

When the door opened, Will bounced out of his seat and nearly ran into Hannibal's legs. He touched Hannibal's hand. Hannibal looked down, smiling at the boy.

 

"I'm hungry."

 

"You are?"

 

"That's what I said." Will frowned.  

 

Hannibal smiled as Franklyn looked between the two.

 

"Now Will. No need to be rude, even if you are hungry and grumpy."

 

"Sorry," grumbled Will.

 

"I thought you may need a snack so I brought one for you. Franklyn, do you mind if I get William a snack? It should take less than five minutes."

 

"Oh, that's fine, Dr. Lecter. Anything I can do to help."

 

Hannibal took Will's hand and led him in the office. Will looked behind him and, seeing that Franklyn had not followed them, he pulled at Hannibal's hand.

 

"Can't I stay in here with you?" hisses Will.

 

"No, you may not. I explained before." Hannibal said retrieving a small bag from his desk.

 

"Please."  

 

Will looked up at Hannibal with his best puppy eyes.

 

"I'll be good. I'll be quiet. Everyone stares at me out there."

 

With a smile, Hannibal held the bag out for Will to take. Before Will reached out for the bag, Hannibal tapped his finger against the tip of Will's nose.

 

"You are very endearing, but no."

 

Will snatched the bag, turning to stamp out of the room. He could not believe that man bopped him on the nose and his patronizing tone was unbearable. Will seethed, muttering under his breath.  He pulled out what looks like peanut butter cracks and a juice box. Juice Box! When did Hannibal get that? Will slammed the items back in the bag. He needed some air and to walk off this caffeine high.

 

Will considered knocking on the door, but thought better of it.  Who knew what Hannibal might do? He may go as far as put Will in a corner, after all, there was a juice box in the bag. Will grabbed his coat from the rack and put it on as he headed out the door.

 

He stood outside the office building in the very small grassy area and watched cars dashing between the fence bars. He suddenly felt very small. Will growled and kicked a stone with the tip of his shoe.His big independent adult plans were not all they were cracked up to be.Outside the fence, he heard a whine. He looked between the bars to see a small dog. It looked like a filthy bag of bones.

 

The dog followed Will when he walked along the fence toward the gate. He pushed it open. The dog cocked its head before tentatively walking up to Will. He grinned, holding out his hand. The dog sniffed his hand and then licked it. Will laughed, stroking behind the mutt's ear as it wagged it’s tail slowly.

 

Will and the dog were startled by a yell.

 

"Hey! Don't pet that dog; he may have rabies!"

 

While Will's attention was diverted to Franklyn outside the door, the dog snapped its jaws into the meat of Will's hand. Will yelped in surprise and pain.  Franklyn grabbed Will's hand and the dog ran off down the street.

 

The pain was amplified as the annoying man squeezed the wound, making it bleed profusely.  Will cried out and attempted to pull his hand away. Franklyn continued to grip Will's hand tightly, babbling about needing to examine the wound. Will impulsively kicked Franklyn's knee and yanked his hand away. Franklyn howled and cursed under his breath and Will cradled his hand and ran back up the porch.

 

Just as he reached the door, Hannibal opened it, knocking Will down in the process. Suddenly, everything became too much for Will to handle—first the change, then the dog bite, and now being smacked by the door! Will felt tears fall on his cheeks.

 

"Oh Will. I am sorry!"

 

Hannibal knelt down to help Will, but Will turned away, holding his hand sniffing. His cheeks burned from his mortification that Hannibal was witnessing him in this state. Will shook his head, afraid to speak without his voice giving away to sobs.  He heard Franklyn hobbling over to the porch.

 

"He kicked me! I was only trying to help save him from that rabid dog!"

 

Will turned over, going to his knees and pointing at Franklyn in anger.

 

"He was not rabid! Just hungry!"

 

Before Hannibal can speak, Franklyn retorted, "He was dangerous! He bit you!"

 

Hannibal turned toward Will.

 

"He bit you?!"

 

The alarm in Hannibal's voice fostered more of the guilt brought on by this whole fiasco.  Will was looking for something to be normal in his life right now.  Dogs have always been that for him. Blue eyes met maroon ones for a moment.

 

"I am fine Hannibal."

 

He turned toward Franklyn, giving the man the brunt of his fury.

 

"I would have been better off, if you had kept your big mouth shut! You scared him! Then you squeezed my hand making it worse!"

 

"You should be grateful I was here to help you little brat."

 

A rage burst through Will's chest as he launched himself off the porch at Franklyn. Franklyn’s eyes widened and he took off out of the gate as Will stormed toward him. Hannibal grabbed Will around the waist from behind, picking up the ranting child.

 

"Let me go! I'll show him a brat! You coward! "

 

Will yelled as Hannibal walked them both inside, silently hoping the police were not called. People had stopped on the sidewalk to watch the spectacle. His reputation may be marred after this stint as a guardian. If this was anyone but Will Graham, so help him.

 

He took Will inside the office. Hannibal noticed blood splattered on the carpet from Will's bloody fist. The tighter the fist, the more it bleed. Hannibal dropped Will onto his regular seat, but kept hold of his arms.

 

"William! Calm down."

 

Hannibal's hands moved up his arms to cup both sides of Will's face, forcing the child to look in calm maroon eyes. Will's anger subsided from the calm coming from Hannibal.  His hand hurt from the bite. A headache pushed its way from the back of his head. Will must have hit his head when the door knocked him down onto the concrete. He didn’t  remember that particular pain. Will was filled with the dual feelings of being embarrassed and ashamed in regards to his actions.

 

He insisted on being treated like an adult, yet here he was acting like a brat. Tears came unbidden from his eyes, his lips quivered.

 

"Oh Will. It's alright."

 

Hannibal pulled him close into a hug. Will relented when his face fell into Hannibal's neck. He sobbed quietly.

 

"I'm sorry! I am so sorry!"

 

"Shhh..it's okay. It has been a confusing day. Franklyn is trying on the best of days."

 

"That fat..."

 

"Will... language."

 

"I'm sorry. I'm a lot of trouble. You shouldn't have to bother with me."

 

Pain shot through Will's hand at that moment. He shook it, hissing an ow. Hannibal enveloped his hand with his own causing Will's flesh to gooseflesh from the heat.

 

Hannibal and Will both startled when they hear a feminine throat clearing.

 

Will's head is still on Hannibal's shoulder when he internally cringed at Alana Bloom's voice.

 

"I am sorry Hannibal. I didn't know you were busy."

 

Hannibal tried to pull away from Will, but Will’s small hand clenched around his neck tightly Curls tickled his nose as Will's head buried deeper into his neck.

 

Although Will couldn’t see the look Alana was giving them, he could imagine it. Her eyes would be soft and her mouth in an awww shape.  How fucked is Will Graham's life? Very apparently.

 

"Who's this?"

 

He feels Alana near his shoulder wanting to lay a soothing hand on his back, but resisting.

 

"Is he a patient?"

 

Hannibal sighed. "Not exactly."

 

Will knew. He knew… he had to bite the bullet and reveal what he is now. Not the unstable profiler teacher, but the unstable child version of Will Graham.  He needed his glasses. Will was in desperate need of his barriers and walls.

 

Will pulled back from Hannibal's neck.

 

"We are having conversations. Hi, Alana."

 

Will turned his head, looking at a confused Alana. She looked at Hannibal then back again at Will.

 

"Who is this Hannibal?"

 

"Will Graham."

 

Alana looked at Will. She came closer making Will instinctively move back toward Hannibal. He stopped himself when he realized what he did.

 

"It can't be. He's.."

 

Alana held a hand over her mouth, eyes wide with shock and confusion.

 

"As impossible as it may be, it is Will Graham."

 

She looked between the two again.

 

"I don't know what happened or how. It's complicated. I haven't seen or told Jack yet."

 

Will answered her unanswered question. She nodded as though she understood. Will winced as his hand throbbed. Alana gently took his hand looking at the angry and bloody bite.  She gasped.

 

"What happened?"

 

"A... a... dog bit me because of Hannibal's patient," Will gritted out. Hannibal sighed getting up.

 

"I'll go get my first aid kit."

 

"Won't he need to go to the hospital? That dog may have rabies."

 

"They would ask too many questions, Alana," Hannibal answered before disappearing through a door.

 

Will sniffed rubbing a hand across his face.  He felt a tissue held up to his nose. A gentle "now blow" was followed by Alana wiping off any excess.  She smiled at Will. He was both enchanted by the maternal behavior as well as mortified that Alana saw him this way. Will thought she may have always viewed Will in this manner.

 

She brushed curls away from his eyes placing them behind his ears.  She smiled suddenly.

 

"You have freckles."

 

Will touched the bridge of his nose as though he could feel them. He laughed.

 

"I forgot about those. They aren't as dark as they were when I was younger."

 

Will's voice trailed off. He felt self-conscience at the moment.

 

"And you laugh and you do know how to smile. Wow... you were...are such a cute kid, Will."

 

Will rolled his eyes and ducked his head, avoiding a soft smile.

 

"He is indeed. All of my patients have said that as well as how well you sat reading by yourself, I might add," Hannibal said as he opened the first aid kit pulling out various items.

 

"If you are brave and sit still I'll make you a special dessert tonight."

 

"Bribery, Dr. Lecter? You better be careful what you promise. I may hold you to it."

 

Will squirmed a little as the alcohol hit the wound. He groaned putting his head in his hand. Elbow braced on the chair arm.

 

"We will need to watch it closely. Not deep enough for stitches. Hopefully, there will be no infection. I can give you something for the pain.  Would you like something?"

 

Will merely nodded as tears pricked his eyes. What is wrong with me? He thought. Shit, I've been stabbed before I should be able to withstand a dog bite without crying. Get a grip, Graham Will heard his father's gravelly voice from smoking and drinking inside his head demanding, "Real men don't cry, son. Suck it up and drive on!"

 

Hannibal carefully bandaged Will's hand. Then he handed him some Tylenol which Will dry swallowed.

 

"Who's looking after your dogs?"

 

Will looked up at Alana as she helped him put on his coat. She crouched down to zip it up. Will thought about protesting but his hand hurt.

 

"I hired someone to take care of the pack for a few days," Hannibal answered. Will heard a tone in Hannibal's usually lulling tone. It sounded like anger. Will's eyes searched Hannibal's face but whatever had been there was now gone.

 

"Shall we have lunch before heading to Quantico?"

 

Will shrugged, following the adults to the door. Once outside, Hannibal opened the car door and Will climbed into the back seat and Hannibal made sure he was buckled in safely. Will watched Alana and Hannibal talk for a moment before he yawned rubbing his eyes. Maybe he could sleep when they went to see Jack.


 

Will looked tired. His eyes glassed over as they rode toward Hannibal’s home. Hannibal thought Will might be tired from this morning. Children still needed to nap at this age. After lunch, he would encourage Will to sleep before seeing Jack.

 

Hannibal’s thoughts ran on several tracks. He thought about what lunch to prepare for Will. Another track was over Franklyn and his behavior. The man was a thorn in his side but had done not a thing to be placed on a menu until today. Unfortunately, Franklyn was too connected to him. Hannibal would need to dispatch him onto another colleague as soon as possible.  The last track was his strange encounter with the feeling of jealousy of how Will responded to Alana. It would be only natural for a boy to respond to a maternal figure. Hannibal suspected Will's childhood lacked maternal and paternal influence.

 

Hannibal would make sure he was given guardianship of Will while he was in this state.  If nothing else, he would keep the boy out of mischief and the self-destructive behavior Will was inclined to indulge in.

Chapter Text

Will stood, his arms wrapped around his waist, idly reaching up to scratch his bare chin that was free of its usual whiskers. His eyes roamed the crime scene photographs on the board, while a corpse lay on a steel table. Something about the crime scene didn’t jive, but Will couldn’t find the angle. He leaned his head side to side working the kink out when he heard voices coming from the hall. Will ignored it as he always did when working a scene inside his head. It was imperative he solved this case because he felt it was the link to his extreme change in physicality.

 

Will heard Price say, “Does Will Graham have a kid?”

 

“Why?” Zeller answered

 

“Who is he? He kinda looks like Graham,” Beverly whispered.

 

“Someone should say something. He shouldn’t be in here. Jesus,” Zeller whispered loudly back.

 

Will sighed as his thoughts drifted back to the scene. The corpse face was painted white with an oversized red mouth and false eyelashes. The actual eyes had been removed and replaced with glass eyes. The woman was propped up for tea time. It looked like some wire was holding her in place. Will thought back to where he had seen defense wounds. He didn’t trust his memory fully. Will turned abruptly and walked over to a stool. He grabbed a pair of latex gloves and pushed the stool over to the gurney.  As he began to climb, footsteps rushed behind him.

 

He was examining the hand, looking at the palm and nails when he felt someone grab him pulling him away from the body.The hand he held thwacked against the metal gurney when it flopped back down. Will winced at the unpleasant sound.

 

“Hey, Hey, buddy. You can’t touch that!”

 

 Will kicked back at Zeller as he moved Will away from his inspection of the victim's hand. He did not feel one ounce of guilt when heard the rush of air leave Zeller’s mouth. Will landed on his feet when he was dropped suddenly.Someone stepped behind him grabbing his shoulders and spinning him around. He came face to face with Beverly. She tried to make eye contact with Will keeping her hands firmly in place,

 

“Hey, honey. We didn’t mean to scare you. Where are your mommy and daddy?”

 

Will shook her hands off before he made his way over to Price.The only one who wasn’t addressing Will in a paronizing way at the moment. Price’s face held a  questioning look as Will locked eyes with him.

 

“Price. Did you find any fibers or DNA under the nails? Were the defense wounds small? Barely scratches?”

 

Price stepped back, looking at Beverly and Zeller before he answered.

 

“We found silk fibers and the defense wounds were small and shallow. They are located in strange places as well.”

 

“Price!” Zeller and Beverly said in unison.

 

Price shrugged. “Well, he asked.”

 

Will began to speak when he was interrupted by Hannibal's voice.

 

“Will! There you are! We worried sick about you.”

 

Inside the door stood Hannibal and Jack. One looked relieved while the other looked in shock.  Will’s felt heat descend from his cheeks to his neck, while his heart rose into his throat choking him. He cleared his throat noisily before he spoke, his soprano voice echoing off the walls.Somehow that made matters feel worse, a child’s voice in a morgue.

 

“You were taking so long that I decided to see what progress was made on the case.”

 

He walked toward Hannibal fidgeting with the oversize examination glove on his hand. Will absently scratched at the healing wound on his palm. He stopped when he saw Hannibal’s disapproving look.

 

“Sorry I alarmed you, Dr. Lecter.”

 

“Oh my God. It is real, Will?”

 

Jack’s burly voice gruff but restrained drawing brief eye contact from Will. He motioned for Will to come closer.  Will hesitated and looked at Hannibal who smirked with a small nod.

 

“I won’t hurt you, son.”

 

“Son? Well, that’s a first Jack. You’ve called me many things, but son is not one of them.”

 

“Oh, fuck! That really is Will Graham!” Zeller said, squatting down to get a better look at him.

 

Will turned, blinking at Zeller. “Well, you weren’t hard to convince.”

 

“I’d know that acidic bitter tongue of yours anywhere.”

 

Will laughed bounced off the walls bumping into the hallway.It caused an eerie feeling to trickle back into the morgue. Zeller reaction to Will’s laughter was confusion. From day one, when he met Graham, Zeller was bewildered by Will’s weird responses and mannerisms.

 

“Okay, I can see that.  We have sparred enough.” Will’s dark humor ended in a slight cough.

 

“That we have, little man.”

 

Will knew Zeller attempted to cast his response as awkwardly friendly. Will’s desire to play nice with others was sorely lacking. Will was still himself no matter how small he was at the moment.

 

“Don’t push it, Zeller,” Will’s peevish reply...

 

“Still an asshole! Just a short one!”

 

“Zeller!” barked Jack.

 

Zeller mumbled something about teacher's pet before walking to his computer. Will drug his feet over to Jack who crouched down to look Will in the face.

 

“Amazing. What happened? Dr. Lecter was unsure of all the details.”

 

Will launched into his story about following the girl and falling through the floor.  How he walked to Lecter's house. At the end, everyone looked at each other silently.  Hannibal broke the silence.

 

“Will. Do you have any theories about this?”

 

Will shook his head looking at the ground.

 

“I’m still trying to understand this killer. Something is off about this entire scene.  I’m lost to what it is. I think the killer and this mystery girl are key to my transformation.”

 

Hannibal turned his body from Will bringing the force of his attention at Jack.

 

“I think you will find it inappropriate for Will to be at any other crime scene at this time. I’m not sure about his state of mind due to the change.”

 

“I am fine.” Will crossed his arms. He heard a giggle from Beverly smiling down at him. Oh, fuck! It has begun, he thought to himself.

 

“Regardless. We are unsure if your mind will try to retreat within the safety of a child’s or stay in your adult state.You have shown some signs of regression.”

 

“I have not!”

 

Hannibal raised a barely there eyebrow while the titters of amusement quickly followed. Will scowled.

 

“Have not,” he mumbled under his breath. “I can still work on this one.”

 

“Yes, but not here,” Jack interrupted. “I have enough scrutiny without adding management looking at us. Let alone the trouble if Lounds found out.”

 

“Oh good God! Don’t even utter that Jack!”

 

Jack gave a knowing nod as he placed a hand on Dr Lecter’s shoulders. He jerked his head and they left to speak privately somewhere away from Will. He could only guess what was being said. Suddenly, Beverly was in front of him, causing Will to step back.

 

“You’re handling this rather well.”

 

“I guess I am still in shock.”

 

Beverly picked up a surprised Will, placing him on an empty space on the counter.

 

“Sorry, my neck couldn’t take it anymore.”

 

“That’s fine...just ask next time.People think it’s just fine to pick a kid up and do whatever with them and it’s not! “

 

“Okay. Sorry..Sorry...But... What are you going to do if you don’t go back?”

 

Will looked at Beverly and at Price feigning non-interest in the conversation. He could feel perspiration on his neck. Anxiety slithered up his legs and arms wrapping itself around his chest squeezing. Everything Will worked so hard for would be gone.Will blinked rapidly as he tried to push up glasses that were not there. Price’s voice entered into the conversation.

 

“I would not want to go through puberty again...no sir...one time was enough... and middle school was a hell unto itself.” added Price. He quickly patted Will on the leg reassuringly. “Everything would be easier the second time around I am sure.”

 

“I can’t wait to be able to blog and tweet about my own personal hell with my followers,” snarked Will his hackles raised.

 

“Oh! Don’t forget SnapChat, they say that’s big,” nodded Price sagely.

 

“Yes, all five of your followers will be glued to their screen,” quipped Zeller.

 

“That’s more than I expected actually. I can’t even wrap my mind that I have to have a sit in a fucking car seat, let alone, staying this way…”

 

Will rubbed his face weakly hoping the panic on his face would sloth off onto the floor. Unfortunately, it just moved from his face up into his scalp as he felt the muscles tighten and knot. God! He needed a drink. At least, he’d be a very cheap drunk.Will wondered if he could convince Hannibal it would be for medicinal purposes?

 

“Who’s going to take care of you, Will?”

 

Will came back from his thoughts.

 

“I can take care of myself, Agent Katz.” Will bristled.

 

“No, you can’t. You’re in an adult world, Will. You will need someone to help you. They will want to assign you a guardian until something is figured out,” answered Price, looking at Will in a paternal way.

 

“Since this temporary, I guess… I hope...either… Dr. Lecter or maybe Dr. Bloom. My Dad found raising me was tough on him the first time around. I can’t imagine at his age now. ”

 

“I would go with Bloom,” Zeller was quick to add his two cents.

 

“You will eat better with Lecter,” Beverly countered.

 

“But will you be able to have your dogs at his house?”

 

Will dropped his head into his hand. “Oh, Shit the dogs,” he groaned.

 

“Or it could be Jack,” said Price, smirking.

 

Will looked up, glaring at the man “Thanks... but no thanks.”

 

“I gotta do something Will. I can’t hold back.”

 

Will turned toward Beverly. Before he knew what was happening, Beverly grabbed him under his arms and pulled him onto her hip. She put her head underneath his jaw and blew a raspberry. Will so shocked his defenses were down. He laughed and giggled unabashed before he started squirming away from the barrage of wet tickles at his neck.

 

“Stop Beverly!” whined a flummoxed Will.

 

Beverly laughed, still holding him.

 

“I have nieces and nephews. I do that all the time. I love that laugh! You are soooo cute.”

 

“Let me down, Beverly.”

 

Will wiggled and finally, Beverly placed Will back on his feet. He rubbed his neck frowning at the woman. It just garnered more chuckles.

 

“Something wrong, Will?” asked a smooth, accented voice.

 

“No... Beverly gave me lots of raspberries is all,” he groused.

 

Hannibal was holding Will’s coat open and Will walked over sticking his arms in the sleeves. He zipped his jacket up. Will flexed the hand with the bandage wincing at the ache of the bite. Suddenly a large cool hand felt Will’s forehead.

 

Hannibal looked at him closely. Will irritably batted the doctor's hand away side stepping any further attempts of physical contact from any other adults.He was fed up with all the touchy-feely-kumbaya-my-Lord-ness, this whole situation had quickly devolved into, in his opinion. Not that anyone seem to care that he had one, well maybe, Hannibal did.

 

“You feel very warm Will.”

 

“I’m fine. It’s hot down here.”

 

“I would still like to check and make sure. When we arrive at my home.”

 

Will nodded and followed Hannibal out of the lab. He looked over his shoulder to the team and Jack talking. He felt Hannibal take his injured hand gently as they waited for the elevator.

 

“Indulge me, William. I am worried something will happen to you.”

 

Hannibal then preceded to glance over the bandage area.Will smiled at him.

 

“Only if you’re lucky Dr. Lecter.”

 

Hannibal smiled as they entered the elevator.


 

 

When they arrived at Hannibal’s home, there was a FedEx package waiting on the steps. Inside were the files on the newest case as well the latest Ripper files. As though Will could ever forget Jack’s obsession. Will shook his head and snorted. He felt unusually hot and tired. When Hannibal declared he was starting dinner preparations, Will excused himself to lay down. He paused at the stairs before asking which room he was to rest in.

 

“My room, Will, is fine. If future accommodations are needed, then I will prepare a guest room for you.”

 

Will nodded in understanding as he turned to trudge up the stairs. Once inside the master suite, Will realized that the bed was high off the ground. Not too high for an adult, but an inconvenience for a child. Will toed off his shoes at the door. He leaned backward to look down the hallway. No one was there. Will took a running leap onto the bed. He landed and bounced lightly with a giggle. He forgot how much fun that was. Maybe he could get Hannibal to take him to one of those trampoline parks. One of the residences Will had stayed at as a child had owned an old rusty trampoline. No netting, very dangerous, but a whole bunch of fun. Will chastised himself for such nonsense; he was too old for such things.

 

Will pulled the covers back and discovered the plushie dogs from this morning. Hannibal put those there for me. Will was a moment away from rebelliously throwing them on the floor when he changed his mind. What was the harm in having them there? He missed his dogs. A lump rose in his throat strangling him with its burn of guilt and homesickness. He missed his friends...family.

 

He pulled the cover back to crawl underneath with the dogs in tow.  He fell asleep quickly.


 

 

 Hannibal prepared a simple dinner, keeping in mind that Will’s young palate was more sensitive.  As he worked quickly and efficiently, Hannibal’s mind was free to peruse over the events at Quantico. Hannibal had planted the seed into Jack’s head that he would be the best guardian for Will. When Jack mentioned Will’s own father might be called, Hannibal was quick to point out that involving Will’s father would most likely hinder Will’s ability to work for Jack and would certainly interfere with the current case.

 

Hannibal thought about his friend sleeping upstairs. He would contact a decorator to prepare a room for Will. The pack of dogs problem also needed a solution. Hannibal hoped he could manipulate Will into either visiting the dogs at a kennel here in Baltimore or keeping them at Wolftrap with a sitter. If push came to shove, Hannibal would allow one dog to come and stay.

 

When dinner was ready, Hannibal took the artfully plated food into the dining room.  As he placed the plates on the dining room table, Hannibal called upstairs for Will. Will didn’t answer or come down, and Hannibal huffed in annoyance. He went upstairs to check on the boy.

 

Will was under the covers still asleep. Hannibal considered letting sleeping children lie but he felt a closer look was warranted. He pulled back the covers slightly to see Will on his back, hugging one of the stuffed dogs. Hannibal noticed the smell of fever was stronger than before. His brow furrowed, he had imagined that Will’s rapidly progressing infection would have stopped since his transformation in a child’s form.  Only it had not. Will’s fever had returned in full force, wreaking havoc on his small system.

 

When he turned on the bedside lamp, he saw Will’s face was flushed a bright red. He placed his hand on Will’s forehead to feel how much of a temperature Will had. The boy was burning up. Hannibal estimated that Will’s temperature was well over 100. He leaned forward for a closer inspection, only for Will to start convulsing. Hannibal quickly rolled him onto his side timing the seizure.  Watching Will struggle, Hannibal’s plans quickly changed from letting the fever ravage the profiler’s mind, to save a child’s mind from damage.  Once Will’s seizure was over, Hannibal wrapped his small body in a blanket for the ride to the ER.


 

 Will stood in a darkened room in front of a mirror that distorted his image. He heard carnival music in the background. He looked at his hands to see they are adult size but in the mirror’s distorted reflection he is a small child. Someone moved behind him coming into the reflection of the mirror. In the mirror is the little girl with blonde ringlets, dirty clothes and mary jane shoes. Will turned his head to see a woman. Her face blurred as though smudged through. Her hair was blonde, her clothes a dirty white and blue, and mary jane heels.Behind her were other people, men and women all with their faces smudged away.

 

Will turned back to the mirror. The little girl winks and smiles.”Gotcha!” she laughs. She held a bloody knife. Will looked down to find he was sliced in half like a magician's assistant.

 

Will sat up suddenly breathing rapidly chest shaking apart from the inside out. He felt hands holding his shoulders and heard soft words of reassurance. It took a moment for his eyes to focus on the room. He was no longer in Hannibal’s bedroom. A mural of a rainbow and clouds was on the wall in front of him. The walls were a light blue. Will blinked and his eyes drifted down to discover he was dressed in a hospital gown with teddy bears on it. One of the dog plushies from Hannibal’s house was beside him.

 

He reached for the blanket he kicked off in his sleep to cover knobby knees. A nurse’s hand assisted him in pulling it over them.He moved away from the woman. She smiled at him.

 

“My name is Beth and I am a nurse.”

 

“Where’s Hannibal?”

 

“Who?”

 

“The man who..”

 

“Oh, your daddy? He went to get something to eat, honey. You’ve been sleeping for a few days. Daddy needed a break.”

 

“A few days?”

 

“Yes, honey. Are you thirsty?”

 

Will blinked and nodded as his hand drifted toward the dog. The nurse placed it into his arms as she went to get him something to drink.  Will’s thoughts were fuzzy. His chest felt constricted for a moment in fear and sadness. He startled when he heard a knock on his door.

 

“Hey, Will.”

 

Beverly entered hesitantly but with a smile.

 

“Beverly?”

 

Beverly’s face filled with concern as she walked over to the bed sitting on it. Without a thought, she took Will into her arms and Will let her. He’s voice sounded so little and lost even to him.

 

“It’s okay.”

 

Will squeezed his arms tighter around her.

 

“Hello, Agent Katz. I’m glad you are awake, Will. We were worried.”

 

The honey-laced voice of Hannibal reached his ears. Will looked at Hannibal. He turned his face backed into Beverly not speaking to his friend. He felt angry with the man. Beverly shrugged her shoulders. Will could imagine the look that passed between them. A quick knock on the door followed by quick squeaky steps into the room broke the tension.

 

“Hello! Here’s you a little Sprite, honey.”

 

Will let go of Beverly to take the styrofoam cup from the nurse.

 

“See, I told your Daddy would be back.”

 

Will’s ears reddened while Beverly ducked her head to smother a smile. The nurse turned Hannibal.

 

“He woke up rather suddenly. I think he had a nightmare. He was a little anxious you were not here when he woke.”

 

Hannibal made an Ah noise nodding his head in understanding. His maroon eyes stayed on Will as the nurse spoke with him about the doctor's rounds and when Will would be discharged. Will drank all the cool liquid.His head turned toward the plushie Will’s neck prickled from Hannibal’s eyes. Beverly leaned over close Will’s ear to whisper.

 

“Does your dog have a name?”

 

She looked down at the stuffed animal beside him. Will flushed even more before he whispered back a maybe.Beverly smiled as she reached into her purse pulling out a palm size plushie husky.

 

“It’s for you. He’s name is Timber. I thought you might miss your dogs.”

 

Will took the little animal.  

 

“Uh, thanks, Bev.”

 

Embarrassment creeped under his skin making him itch. Will knew Beverly meant well but all this attention was uncomfortable. He knew if he was adult Will, more than likely, only Hannibal would have visited. What did that say about him and the people he knew? Something to ponder for another day when he wasn’t so tired.

 

Will placed the husky between the legs of the larger dog. He looked up to find Hannibal sitting in the chair beside the bed.

 

“What happened to me, Daddy?” the endearment dripped with sarcasm.

 

Beverly giggled as Will smirked. For a moment Hannibal’s face did nothing but then there was a very small curve of his lips.

 

“It was a necessary claim I was, so I could admit you and receive information on your condition, William. What happened was you had a temperature of 105 and went into convulsions. Before your change, I thought I smelt encephalitis coming from you but once you were further examined it turns out you had scarlet fever. An old ailment that has returned from the Victorian era.Luckily, children do not die from it as they often did back then.”

 

“You can smell disease?” asked Will

 

“I have a very sensitive nose. They put you under sedation as they lowered your temperature and gave you antibiotics.”

 

“When can I go home?”

 

“They are thinking about Friday.”

 

A knock at the door heralded the arrival of Brian and Jimmy. Beverly cheered as Jimmy entered the room but Brian stood awkwardly at the door.

 

“Micky D's delivery!”

 

Jimmy held up a Happy Meal box.

 

“I am starving!”

 

Will held out his hands as Jimmy placed the box into them while Hannibal lips pursed. He looked on with disapproval but Will tore open the box eagerly. He pulled out a Transformer toy before grabbing some fries.

 

“Hey which Transformer did you get?” asked Brian from the doorway.

 

“Ummm...Bumblebee...You wanna see?”

 

Will held out the bag to Brian. Jimmy turned toward Brian in a teasing voice.

 

“Yea, you wanna see Brian? Will can share. You could learn a couple of things from him.”

 

Brian frowned as he walked over to the bed taking the toy and opening the plastic bag.

 

“I can share. I share all the time, damn it!”

 

“Whether anyone wants you to or not,” piped in Will which garnered more laughs than usual since it came from the mouth a snarky child.

 

Brian promptly stuck out his tongue out at Will; who promptly returned his own at Brian.

 

“Now boys let’s get along. Brian, I expect better from you,” stated Beverly looking at Brian.

 

Brian handed the toy back to Will while grumbling that Jimmy had started the whole thing.

 

“Have I missed a memo about a party?”

 

Alana’s voice came from the door as she entered the room.

 

“Seems I’m not the only the one with this idea.”

 

She held up her Happy Meal box which Will happily took. Hannibal gave an audible sigh of exasperation.

 

“Oh Hannibal you’re only a kid once,” Alana said. She blushed when she realized what she said.

 

“Well unless you’re Will,” added Jimmy.

 

Everyone’s eyes fell on the Will who was digging through the other Happy Meal. He sensed eyes on him so his attention became sharply focused on his hamburger until a nurse came into the room. She shooed most of his visitors from the room leaving Will with Alana and Hannibal.

 

“Thanks Alana for the meal.”

 

“Your welcome. I am in big trouble with Hannibal.’ she laughed.

 

“That is not food Alana.”

 

“You don’t appreciate the fine quality of American Fast Food, Hannibal.”  

 

Will defended Alana as he handed her the trash from his meals so Hannibal wouldn’t have his hands soiled by such greasy filth.

 

“You are right Will I do not. Nor is it a skill I wish to acquire.”

 

“Well, I should get going. I have the pack to feed, who miss you very much by the way.”

 

“I miss them too.”

 

“Have Hannibal bring you by to see them later this week.”

 

“Okay. Thanks again Alana.”

 

“Bye guys!”

 

“Goodnight.”

 

Will gave a small wave. He sighed thinking about his pack. His fingers tugged on the tuft of fur on the small dog’s ear.

 

“Since you are speaking to me now, I take it you are no longer angry with me?”

 

A statement framed in what sounded like a question came from Hannibal. The older man pulled Will’s covers over his legs. He fussed with the covers waiting for Will’s reply.

 

“No. Sorry. I shouldn’t have been. Not sure what came over me.”

 

Will gave a weak smile.

 

“You felt afraid to find yourself in a new place. You thought I had abandoned you.”

 

“The thought had crossed my mind.”

 

Hannibal laid his hand over Will’s wrist catching him off guard. Will’s eyes looked up into Hannibal’s. “I will not abandon you ever Will.You are not alone.”

 

Will could see the determination and loyalty in the older man’s red eyes. He nodded whispering an okay. Will yawned as he snuggled further down into the scratchy hospital bedding.

 

“You should sleep now. You need your rest.”

 

“Will you be here?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“‘Night, Hannibal.”

 

Hannibal brushed curls away from WIll’s forehead.

 

“Sweet Dreams Will.”

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

My version of grumpy kid Will in oversize clothing or This is my Happy Face, Beverly.


 

Once released from the hospital, Will fidgeted excitedly in the back seat of Hannibal’s Bentley. He used his arms to raise himself up so he could see out of the car window. His little home looked like a lone boat on the ocean. A safe harbor in Will’s troubled world. He sighed his contentment to be back in his sanctuary, if only briefly.

 

Once Hannibal stopped the car, Will unbuckled his seatbelt and rushed out. Hannibal grumbled to himself that he should have never let Will talk him into disabling the child safety locks. Hannibal closed the car door lingeringly in anticipation of watching  Will interact with his furry family.

 

As soon as Will was at the front door, Alana opened it to let the wave of rushing fur flood around Will. The pack was curious and a little bewildered by their master’s changed appearance, but his scent was still the same. Once Winston licked Will’s palm and was greeted with a hug and scratches, the others threw themselves wholeheartedly in demanding their share of affection.

 

Physically, Will was overwhelmed by the sheer number of his pack running between his legs, tails thwacking into his small frame and bodies pushing against him for attention.  Will succumbed to the barrage of affection, falling into the snow and mud. He attempted to roll over to his knees to push himself up but found tongues licking his ears and noses snuffling his neck, enticing fits of giggles. He was unable to break free and catch his breath until Hannibal decided to rescue Will from his pack. Hannibal sighed as he looked at Will’s state—from the muddy, wet clothing to curls pulled down by cold, wet clumps of snow. Hannibal was glad he always thought ahead and had brought additional clothing. He carried Will above his pack into the house. The pack followed obediently, going to their beds as soon as everyone was inside.

 

Emotionally, Will was the happiest he had been in a long time. His eyes swept his home to find everything as he left it before all this upheaval happened. He walked over to his lure desk and ran his fingertips over the lure he currently was creating.  He decided to ask Hannibal if he could bring a few supplies with him when they left. Will felt a twinge of sadness at that thought. He knew it was necessary, but he missed his friends. He felt a warm hand on his shoulder and jumped a little, looking up to see Alana.

 

She bent over, putting her face level with his.

 

“I think you need a bath and a change before you get sick again.”

 

“Yea. I should.”

 

“Here are some clothes.”

 

Hannibal handed Will a small backpack.  Will’s eyes lingered on his pack before he shuffled off to the bathroom. He paused before the linen closet grabbing a towel, making a quick mental note he that needed to do a load of towels, before heading inside the room. There was something comforting about the smells of the familiar soap and shampoo that Will had never taken notice of until now.  He took a quick shower.  Once out and dried off, he pulled the clothing out of the backpack. He barked a laugh. The first item was a blue and green plaid flannel shirt.  Unlike his old reliables, it was made of a thick fabric and brushed to softness. The next items were a small white t-shirt, a pair of Superman knit boxers, and thermal socks.  The final item was a pair of denim bib overalls. Wonders never cease. Dr. Hannibal Lecter packed an iconic backwoods clothing staple. I haven’t worn a pair of these in years. Will’s thoughts trickled in as he adjusted the straps, pulling the garment up and snapping everything into place. Will closed the toilet lid and climbed on top of it. He stretched across the counter, grabbing the bottle with the ship on it. Now for the pièce de résistance, smirked Will.


 

 Hannibal helped Alana prepare lunch for Will and themselves. The more Hannibal was around Will, the more he knew this was a second chance. He may have failed to save Mischa, but he could save Will Graham. Raising a child with a mind such as Will’s, with his potential for darkness, as well, would be a challenge and a pleasure; to see what would emerge from the cocoon. He was brought out of his thoughts by Alana’s voice.

 

“How are the guardianship plans coming?”

 

“My lawyer is drawing up the paperwork for guardianship for Will until his condition goes back to normal. Documentation is easily taken care of. Furniture will be delivered later today so he has his own personal space. You look concerned, Alana.”

 

“I was thinking maybe it would be to Will’s and your advantage to have us be both co-guardians. Then all the burden would not fall on your shoulders. Will could stay with me some of the time giving him a chance to visit with his dogs. From what I understand he never had a steady maternal influence in his life.”

 

Hannibal sighed, trying not to bristle at Alana’s interference. He could understand her impulse to want to take care of Will. She pitied and wanted to fix the adult, Will. This version would be an easy way to indulge in that urge.

 

“I appreciate that you want to help with Will. Perhaps we need to discuss this with him. Since he was not in contact regularly with a mother figure, he may lash out without knowing the reason why. All those years of pent up anger.”

 

“Yes, I see what you are saying. Let’s ask him.”

 

Hannibal smiled in his small way, irritated that his argument did not dissuade Alana from this plan of hers.  No matter, he felt sure he could persuade Will that her involvement would be a problem.


Will came downstairs to the smell of lunch. He smiled, thanking Hannibal and Alana for lunch as they all approached the modest table. Will discovered kneeling on the chair was the only way to reach the table. Alana held up her finger and then disappeared to the living room. She emerged carrying two old telephone directories. She placed them on Will’s chair and helped him sit on them before pushing the chair all the way up to the table.

 

“My grandfather did this when I visited him when I was small.”

 

“I remember Dad doing this as well. It’s just been so long ago. I’d forgotten. Thanks, Alana.”

 

“No problem.”

 

Hannibal motioned for Alana to take her seat. He followed after her, ever the host.  Will looked over the table set with mismatched plates, bowls, and silverware. Different foods were placed in various serving bowls and platters. The atmosphere was nostalgic of times when family meals were an everyday occurrence. Even in Will’s tiny family, there were times when they were able to sit at a table have a meal.  The food was always plain and simple, like the food before him at that moment.  Will’s eyes focused on the grain of the wood, but his mind hovered in the past.

 

“What are you thinking Will?” asked Alana

 

He flushed and fidgeted with his napkin for a moment.

 

“I...just had...this flashback...kind of a memory...more like...a sensory memory….where I was sitting with my parents having a meal...I half expected someone to say grace…”

 

Will continued to fuss with the spoon and napkin before he felt Hannibal take his hand and Alana take his other. Alana spoke, “Would you like to say it?”

 

Will looked up, but dropped his eyes quickly, looking back at his bowl.

 

“Then let’s each say a silent one.”

 

They all closed their eyes for a moment. A moment later, Hannibal went ahead and filled their bowls with soup. Hannibal’s nostrils flared and his nose twitched when he filled Will’s bowl. Will smirked before he covered his mouth, failing to hide a devious smile. Alana looked between the two. She caught Will’s infectious smile, smiling herself. Hannibal side eyed Will, eyebrow raised, as the boy started to laugh.

 

“What’s so funny? Come on, I want in on the joke.”

 

“It’s not that funny, really,” Hannibal answered.

 

Will shook his head no, still trying to stifle a laugh. “Oh, no..not at all.”

 

Alana tilted her head with an exasperated expression on her face. Will controlled himself enough to answer.

 

“I just put on Hannibal’s favorite Old Spice cologne. It’s not interfering with your meal is it?”

 

Will widened his eyes innocently as he tilted his head upward at Hannibal. Alana giggled drawing Hannibal’s attention.

 

“I did not know how much you like that. I’ll keep that in mind for your birthday.”

 

“Please do not trouble yourself, Alana.” Hannibal drolled.

 

Hannibal picked up his napkin, unfurling it and placing it on his lap as he shook his head. Will and Alana laughed merrily at his olfactory discomfort. If they only knew, he thought to himself. A quick flash of torture involving the use of Old Spice passed through his mind.

 

Alana calmed finally and spoke again after silence settled over the group.

 

“Will.  I never knew you were such a jokester.  Were you a prankster as a kid…”

 

“The first time around?”

 

Alana nodded, picking up her spoon. Will frowned, looking upward. Was he?

 

“I was. I did small things. I teased a lot. My Dad, however, he is a big prankster. I remember he made a wooden egg, painted it white and everything. He put it into this lady he was dating at the time’s real eggs.” Will started to giggle, “She picks it up and tries to break it, but of course, it wouldn’t break. She never figured out it was fake!  So...she took it back...to the store.” Will laughed and Alana held her napkin over mouth as she laughed. Even Hannibal started to chuckle.

 

“What happened?” asked a breathless Alana.

 

“Oh, they gave her like .10 or something back before someone figured out it was wood. Then when they figured it out, they called her to let her know. They found it funny, but she was ill as a hornet! I think she could have beat my Dad to death. He was laughing too hard to defend himself.”

 

“Your father sounds interesting, Will. You inherited a mischievous streak from him then.”

 

Will gave a small smile. “Yea, I came by it honestly, as he says.”

 

“Is it something you only pull out on special occasions?”

 

Will shrugged and took a sip of soup before he answered.

 

“Not in therapy, Dr. Lecter.”

 

Hannibal surrendered with a small nod. The three continued to eat before Alana deemed it appropriate to ask Will a question.

 

“Will, I was wondering if you would like to spend a few nights with me?  Give Hannibal sometime alone and catch up on sleep. It would give you some time with your dogs.”

 

Will looked from Alana to Hannibal and then back. He smiled and nodded his head.

 

“I would like that. If that’s okay with you Hannibal?”

 

“Will, you are a grown man. If you want to spend some time with your dogs at Alana’s that is fine. You are also welcome to bring your dogs to my house. I could find a way to accommodate them.”

 

Will’s eyes widened in shock. “Really?”

 

“Yes, really. Is that so hard to believe?”

 

“Well, yeah. I wouldn’t expect anyone who didn’t own pets to open their home to seven dogs, no matter how well trained they are. That’s a lot to ask of anyone.”

 

“I am full of surprises.”

 

“Yes, you are Hannibal,” said Alana, smirking at him from across the table.  She looked like she knew something. Before Will could ask, Hannibal changed the subject to the case that caused all these complications.


 

 As Hannibal turned into his driveway, Will observed a large truck with two men sitting in it.  Hannibal pulled into the garage and shut off the car. He hesitated before exiting, turning in his seat to address Will directly.

 

“Since your circumstances seem to be semi-permanent, I took the liberty of procuring some furniture that is better suited for your size.  One of the guest rooms will be your room until fate decides otherwise.”

 

“So does this mean I’m staying with you all the time?”

 

“That was the general consensus on the matter. Now, I do have to let the movers in, please excuse me. We can discuss this matter further later.”

 

Hannibal exited the car, leaving Will to deal with the car seat on his own. Leaving the garage, he walked through the house to where Hannibal was directing the men where to go.

 

“Dr. Lecter—”

 

“Will, did you wipe your feet?”

 

Hannibal looked down at Will then waved to the backdoor.

 

“Go wipe your feet, close the backdoor, and hang your coat up.”

 

Will crossed his arms.

 

“You forgot to tell me to take my coat off. Aren’t you afraid I’ll try to hang myself up with it?”

 

Before Hannibal could speak, he heard a gruff chuckle from one of the movers.

 

“They start young these days with that sassy mouth, don’t they?”

 

The man smiled on his way out of the door. Hannibal turn his attention fully on Will, who rolled his eyes as he walked down the hall toward the back door. He does everything asked of him. He couldn’t remember his real father being this bossy, no strike that, Hannibal is not his father or a paternal figure, he is a friend and colleague. Will had been pretty much self-sustaining since he was in elementary school. His father had rarely hovered around him or given him instruction on anything.

 

He huffed out a breath in frustration as he put his hands in his pockets and meandered over to the french doors that looked out into the yard. He contemplated where Hannibal would put a building big enough for his dogs out there. Will knew there would be no way Hannibal would let his pack inside his museum. Will laid his head against the cold glass pane, watching his breath fog the one below it.

 

“Did you find what you are looking for?”

 

“No, unfortunately.”

 

“Perhaps, another point of view?”

 

Will raised his head from the glass and turned from the door, giving a little shrug.

 

“Would you like to see your room?”

 

Will nodded and followed Hannibal out of the room. As they ascended the stairs Will watched the first floor rug become smaller. Suddenly, the middle of the rug began to ripple and warp as though it was being sucked inside something. Just as quickly it appeared to fall into a black hole. Shocked, Will opened his mouth to call out to Hannibal who had reached the top step.  But when he blinked, Will realized the rug was back in it’s place as if nothing had happened. Will mentally shook it off. He swallowed before he asked what was on his mind.

 

“Speaking of rooms. When did this become a semi-permanent thing? Don’t I get a say in this?”

 

Hannibal looked back at Will, stopping midway down the hall and waiting for him to catch up.  Will trotted down the hall, looking at Hannibal.

 

“Jack asked me if I would mind being your guardian until you become what you were.”

 

Will frowned.

 

“Does this displease you? Would you prefer Alana or Jack?”

 

Hannibal paused in front of a room directly across the hall from his own bedroom.  Instead of answering, Will entered the room. There was child size furniture throughout the room. A full size bed, a desk, chair, a child’s step stool for reaching the bathroom sink, and another small table and chair set in front of the window. Will assumed it was for tying flies. The design of the furniture was simple and elegant, made of cherry wood.  Will smirked as his hand skimmed the surface of the desk.

 

Glancing over his shoulder he remarked, “What no car bed?”

 

“I am afraid not.  Maybe on your third go at childhood, they will be in stock.”

 

Will laughed as he faced Hannibal.

 

“Who said Lithuania's weren’t funny? Not me,” he quirked a brow, “As for the other, I have no objections with staying with you. You’ve been nothing but kind.  I just...feel like...I have no say in anything.  Even though I look like a child, I am not one. I appreciate it when my friends and colleagues consult with me on issues that concern my living arrangements.”

 

“I do apologize. We all have been remiss about that. Because of your appearance, we have to make decisions for appearance’s sake and legalities. We should have consulted you.  The perception of control is important for anyone at any age in life.  Tell me Will, have you ever had control in your life?”

 

“I would like to think so, yes. Apparently, you don’t think I have.”

 

Will sat on the plastic cover mattress bouncing on it slightly and listening to it crinkle.  He looked up at Hannibal leaning casually in the doorway.

 

“Since Uncle Jack has entered your classroom, I do not.  But that is neither here nor there. I will get the linens and we will make your bed.”

 

Will exhaled, resigned to this new arrangement for the time being.


 

 

Will groaned as he raised his head from the desk. A paper stuck his face, he scowled, pulling it off. He fell asleep looking at the case file.  Papers were piled everywhere but still, he had yet to find that elusive cypher to unlock this mystery. It was hidden just in the shadows, its toes barely peeking out in the light.  His stomach grumbled at him.  Will glanced at the clock on the nightstand for the time of 2:19 a.m. He pushed himself up from the chair and, as he stretched, he realized the familiar pops and cracks were not there. Well, at least something about this little situation didn’t suck totally.

 

He walked quietly down the stairs to the kitchen to see if he could find something small to sustain him till breakfast. His first stop was the refrigerator.  Will opened the door to peruse the contents.  Seeing nothing inside that someone could grab and snack on, he closed the refrigerator door.  He went to the pantry in a small hope of finding Hannibal’s secret hoard of processed snack food, particularly something sweet. Yet again, to Will’s dismay, there was nothing good to be found.

 

He thought he heard something moving around in the wall. Is there a mouse in Hannibal’s house? Perish the thought! Surely no rodent would ever find a way inside, let alone survive long enough to reach the pantry. But still, Will knew he heard something muffled—now it sounded like voices.  He looked around, trying to pinpoint the source when a flash caught his eye.   Was that a handle to another door? Will squinted, moving to the shiny object.

 

“Looking for something particular?”

 

Will jumped before he smiled, holding his chest.

 

“You are as quiet as the grave, Dr. Lecter. Yes, I was looking for your stash of Snickers bars.”

 

“I am sorry. I must have eaten all of those last night with the chips.  I could make you something?”

 

Will shook his head no. He followed Hannibal out of the pantry, shiny object forgotten.


 

After Will went to bed, Hannibal cleaned the kitchen. He would have to make new arrangements for his guest. He wasn’t ready for that part of his plan to be revealed just yet. However, Will’s mind was too curious and brilliant not to ask questions and then make connections. Hannibal made several contingency plans for the future if they should be needed. Satisfied with his plans and the kitchen, Hannibal retired for the rest of the night.


 

 That Saturday afternoon found Hannibal and Will at the farmer’s market. Will’s mood had turned black as the week progressed. The dog bite, from outside Hannibal’s office, on his hand, turned red with an infection which made it burn and throb. Will though on medication found it cumbersome to move his hand without some discomfort. This, in turn, made his prickliness even sharper.

 

The infection of his hand coupled with no progress in the identification of the little girl pushed Will into retreating into his room for long stretches of time. Hannibal forced Will into the fresh air of the market for physical health as well as his mood. At the moment, only the rosiness of the air showed in his cheek as a sign of improvement. His mood was still bleak as he trudged behind Hannibal, grumbling and dragging his feet.

 

“Hey, Dr. Lecter! Hey, Will!”

 

Beverly Katz’s voice grabbed their attention as she waved them over to her. Hannibal, polite as always, strolled over to greet her. Will begrudgingly followed. Beverly, wrapped against the cold with a scarf and jacket, was holding a cup of coffee and standing by a smaller version of herself. The younger woman was wearing hipster glasses and pushing a stroller that held a baby girl tucked inside and wrapped up in pink. The baby gurgled, chewing on her fist and babbling as she played with a set of keys.

 

“Hey guys! Lisa, this is Dr. Lecter and Will. This is my sister Lisa and one of my nieces, Lily. Hannibal smiled at Lily and her mother, murmuring a good day. Will did a half wave, looking briefly at Lisa before glancing to Lily. Beverly and Lisa were discussing the market and her visit when Lily threw her keys to the ground.

 

Will picked them up and placed them back on the tray in front of the baby—who babbled and cooed and threw them down to the ground again. He picked them up again, placing them on the tray.  He heard the keys hit the tray several more times before Lily threw them further. Will dutifully went and retrieved them.  When he returned, Lisa was crouching down and talking with Lily. She smiled, taking the keys from Will.

 

“She likes you.”

 

Lily smiled and banged the tray, babbling to her mother.

 

“How can you tell?”

 

“She’s trying to get your attention. She’s trying to talk to you. Aren't you Lily?”

 

Lisa’s voice lilted up when she spoke to her baby. Lily cooed talking back to her mother pointing about Will. It made him smile despite the black cloud that hung over him at the moment. Lisa moved from her position to look at something Beverly had in her hand. Will looked around for Hannibal, but the man was nowhere in sight. Will assumed the man moved on to another booth. Will turned around looking for him when he heard a disgruntled whine and then a wail. Startled, Will faced Lily again. Her eyes scrunched and her lip quivered as she began to cry.

 

Panic filled Will. He looked around for her mother, but she and Beverly were nowhere in sight. People were starting to stare. Will stepped close to Lily, attempting to shush the baby. He rattled the keys but she pushed them away as tears began leaking down her face.  In desperation, Will gently took both her little hands. Lily opened her watery brown eyes looking into Will’s blue ones. Now that he had her attention he began to sing very softly, moving her little arms side to side.

 

Three is a magic number

Ya it is, it's a magic number

Somewhere in that ancient mystic trinity

You'll get three

As a magic number

The past, the present, the future,

Faith, and hope, and charity,

The heart, the brain, the body,

Will give you three,

It's a magic number

 

Reaching back into Will’s childhood, he could not remember any lullabies that were sung to him. He did remember Saturday morning cartoons and School House Rocks’ catchy educational songs that wormed their way into every child’s memory who watched them.

 

Will was unsure if it was the song, his attention, or his terrible out of tune singing, but whatever it was worked. Lily’s crying faded into sniffling and eventually into listening. She seemed enraptured by Will’s little show.  For Will, the crowd faded and his mood shifted from dark to a light gray at least.  That song and Lily's small warm hands gifted Will a little escape from the stressful weeks.

 

Will continued singing and humming when he couldn’t remember the words until three sets of legs surrounded the stroller. He looked up at two gushing women and an amused Hannibal.  Will’s voice tapered off in self-conscious embarrassment from the attention. He wanted to crawl under a booth and hide till everyone left—either that or kick Hannibal and run. But he was an adult, his mantra of late, so he stood there.

 

“I didn’t know what else to do. She was crying and everyone was looking.”

 

“You did great! Lily loved it!” enthused Lisa. “Do you babysit?” She playfully asked.

 

“Ummm...Nope...I think...I’m not allowed to.”

 

Beverly barked out a laugh as Will’s cheeks turned red.

 

“I don’t know. Something could be arranged I think.  It could be a date.”

 

Hannibal grinned as Will scuffed his shoe, looking around for a quick exit to escape this nightmare. Before he knew it, Hannibal would arrange playdates for him. The horror. Will glared at Hannibal. He silently conveyed the threat of ties gone missing and shoes accidentally given to the pack as chew toys. He’s not sure Hannibal received the message or not, but no matter, they would have a little discussion later.

 

“I think we need to go.” Will stated as he headed off in the general direction of Hannibal’s car and leaving the laughter behind him.

 

He bumped into a pair of legs and fell backward. Surprised, he looked up to see none other than Freddie Lounds.  She looked down with a snarl.

 

“Look where you’re going kid.”

 

Will gulped as he got up. “Sorry,” he stuttered out.

 

Suddenly, Freddie looked up with a smile. Her eyes locked on someone. Will felt a hand lightly grab his shoulder before he could continue his escape.

 

“Dr. Lecter. I haven’t seen you in a while or Will Graham lately. You don’t happen to know what has happened to Jack’s unstable profiler?”

 

Will’s eyes flashed but he felt Hannibal’s hand keep him firmly in place.

 

“Hello, Ms. Lounds. I believe Will Graham is indisposed at the moment. Have you asked Jack Crawford for an official statement per chance?”

 

“Yes, but he is tight lipped as ever.”

 

“Then I have nothing to add.”

 

Will felt Hannibal’s hand rest on the top of his head as he moved closer to Hannibal’s leg. Will looked away when Freddie's eyes suddenly gave him a piercing gaze.

 

“Who's this little fellow running wild through the market?”

 

“I was not. It was an accident. Sorry I ran into you,” retort Will, looking at Freddie’s black knee high boots.

 

“If I didn’t know any better I would say you sound just like Will Graham. Aren’t you related?”

 

Freddie’s face appeared right in front of Will’s. Surprised blue eyes met cunning green ones. Will shrank back into the safety of Hannibal’s leg. He turned his face away from Freddie into it. Hannibal stroked his curls.

 

“Does Will have a child, Dr. Lecter? Is he an unstable absentee father?”

 

Hannibal narrowed his eyes, placing a polite smile on his lips.

 

“My charge and I need to be on our way, Ms. Louds. Excuse us.”

 

Will felt a little push forward as they began walking towards Hannibal’s car. He could see the headlines now that Will Graham was a neglectful father to a wild unruly child.  Fucking Freddie Lounds, he hated that woman. He exhaled. There was nothing to do about that now. He needed to focus on the case and getting his life back, such as it was. Will’s black cloud mood returned bringing rain this time.

 

As easily as it had gone, Will’s black cloud returned, a scowl darkening his brow as he yanked the car door shut behind him.

 

  

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Between Shadow and Soul

 

 

from my sketchbook: Between the Shadow and the Soul

 


 

 

 Will sat up in bed and looked at the corner of the bedroom.  The flash of lightning frightened him more than the boom of thunder that followed it.  He swore something or someone was in the corner. Another flash of light revealed an empty corner and allowed Will to breathe a sigh of relief. He laid back down, fighting the urge to seek Hannibal out for comfort. He closed his eyes briefly only to open them again when another crash of thunder shook the house. A movement drew his gaze to the right side of the bed.  Standing beside it was the little girl from the amusement park, but instead of eyes, she had dark gaping holes with black liquid running down her cheeks into her mouth that was spread open in a toothy smile.

 

Will’s breath stuttered before the pace quickened. He reached out to touch her. He had to know if she was real. The girl reached out in mirror reflection and when their fingertips touched, the air rippled out like water.  The sound from her lips echoed like the thunder that followed the lightning.

 

Will flung himself out of bed and ran toward the stairs to escape as hands grabbed his arm. Will yelled, twisting as he fought off the grip.  He stumbled down the stairs and landed at the bottom in a heap. He winched in pain as he pushed himself up. When Will looked up, he saw the girl at the top of the stairs with a shadow looming behind her. Eyes transfixed on the girl above, Will backed up and grasped blindly for the front doorknob. He collided with something soft. Everything shifted as Will turned around to find a woman. Her face was pale and gaunt with frightened eyes. She was dressed in a simple white nightgown.

 

“Run! Run! You don’t want to die this way!” she hissed.

 

Heart pounding in his chest, Will froze in fear. Was this real? It couldn’t be real! Not real! Not real! The words sped up with his pulse and something warm and wet ran down Will’s leg. His hand moved to the front of his flannel night pants.  Shame filled Will with the discovery they were wet. Hannibal will be so angry with him! Suddenly a vice like grip captured his arm as tears trickled down his face. He was too afraid to look past the dark hand that held his arm.

 

“Shush! William. It will be fine, accidents happen. Come with me.”

 

Will whimpered looking at the woman curling herself into the corner beside the front door. Will felt her terror. Why doesn’t she run?! Where is Hannibal?!

 

In a push of panic, Will pulled and twisted away from the shadow but couldn’t break free. He felt a sharp sting on his neck. His knees buckled under his weight. Laid gently on the floor, his eyes fluttered. Everything began to blur and fade to black.  He thought he heard someone say, “You are naughty.”


 

 

 Will woke in Hannibal’s bed, tangled in sheets, and lying sideways across the bed. He unrolled himself, kicking the rest of his confines off in frustration. His favorite plushie, that he secretly named Buddy, fell to the floor.  Will sat up holding his head in his hands. What happened last night?!

 

Will remembered the storm and the girl in his room. He had run down the stairs and there was a  woman...all in white...Will lifted the covers to find no flannel bottoms and new briefs.  No...Nononono! He did not want to believe he wet the bed last night. He must have though. Why would he be in Hannibal’s room and with new underwear on? He slipped out of the bed, feet landing with a dull thud on the carpet.  He rushed over to his room. Will hesitated at the door for a moment before he crossed the threshold. A sliver of sunlight shone thrown the crack between the closed curtains. It cut across the bed like a knife with the point ending at the corner.

 

The bed covers and sheets were stripped from the bed. The acidic smell of urine was very faint, but there. Awash with shame, Will had no idea how he could face Hannibal. Not since he was a very small child had this occurred and only when he was very ill. Will’s grip on reality and his adulthood was slipping away through his fingers.  Will went to the bathroom to take a scalding hot shower.  As he scrubbed his skin raw, his focus on solving this case was paramount now more than ever... He would not be distracted by thoughts of plushie dogs or warm comfort anymore. Those were for children and he was not a child.

 

He dressed for the day before he went downstairs. He lingered at the kitchen door working up the nerve to enter. Will had apologized for many things in his life but this was a first.  He didn’t know if he could face Hannibal and do this.

 

“Will?”

 

Will sighed and entered the room.

 

Hannibal was standing at the counter drinking a cup of coffee.

 

“I’m sorry Hannibal. For last night.”

 

“Will.”

 

“Before you say that it was nothing. It was. I am horrified at what happened. I don’t know what to say, but I feel awful.”

 

Will knew his face was the color of crimson.  His glasses slipped to the tip of his nose. He knew they were ridiculously big for his face. He needed the barrier more than before.  Will’s bone forts were being pulled underneath by sinkholes.  The loss of control over his mind and now his body was almost too much for Will to bear. He was laid bare before the one person he respected the most.  Will wavered between staying here with Hannibal or ending the relationship altogether.

 

“Will.” Hannibal walked over to Will and kneeled down to face him. He took Will’s small hands in his, forcing Will to look him into the eye.

 

“You had an episode last night. It went from a night terror to gran mal seizure. That is why you urinated in your bed.”

 

Will looked up at Hannibal. “I had a seizure? I thought I... you know... on the rug in the foyer.”

 

“That is why I moved you from your room to mine. I wanted to watch over you.  There is nothing to be ashamed of, alright? You did not sleepwalk last night.  Is that what you dreamed?”

 

Will nodded, feeling confused and relieved.

 

“I dreamed about the girl from the amusement park and when I tried to escape. I think... is there someone else in the house Hannibal? No... sorry, of course not. I saw this woman at the front door... Nevermind it was the dream.”

 

Will looked down as he hastily explained away his question. A flash of annoyance crossed Hannibal’s features before calm reappeared.  He rubbed Will’s arms up and down gently. When Will raised his eyes, he was greeted with an understanding smile.  Will rubbed his neck, stepping back from Hannibal.

 

Without another word on the subject, Hannibal returned to the table and Will joined him.  After a few stilted starts, they discussed the next steps Will planned in the investigation as well as a few matters that needed resolution out of necessity. Hannibal agreed to take Will to Quantico in the afternoon, while that morning he and Hannibal made arrangements for his classes and his dogs.

 

Alana and another professor agreed to split the class load using Will’s lessons and notes. The students were given an ambiguous excuse of a sabbatical of unknown duration and unknown location for Will Graham. This led to excessive speculation and gossip among the staff and students. They were familiar with his long absences for cases, but this little mystery was too juicy for anyone to leave alone, especially after Freddie Lounds latest articles about Will’s conspicuous absence from recent crime scene investigations.

 

Her speculations of Will’s sudden disappearance ranged anywhere from mental breakdown to incarceration to alien abduction. Will personally liked the last one because he was a big X-Files fan from way back. For the moment, Freddie Lounds had left her suspicions of Will Graham’s fatherhood without comment on her rag of a site. Will was thankful for small favors but waited for that other shoe to drop as soon as the women grew bored or her numbers plummeted.

 

Will knew his pack was the hardest hit by the sudden upheaval in his life. When Winston stayed with Alana, or anytime Will was gone more than three days, he consistently returned to Wolftrap. Although Hannibal offered to house all the dogs outside, Will knew that was too much to ask of his friend. Alana in kindness kept them, but Will felt like he was imposing on her giving nature. Will made plans and inquiries, thank God for email and text messaging, and came up with solutions for the situation. Hannibal agreed to Winston staying at his home.  The thought of Winston becoming injured from his travels frightened Will.

 

Next, two of the older dogs who needed constant attention was placed with a loving couple a few houses over. Alana knew of a couple of college students who would feed, water, and walk the pack in exchange for housing at Wolftrap. The added benefit was that someone was on the property so that there were no trespassers during the week. On the weekends, the students often went home or stayed with friends. This left the option open for Will to stay at Wolftrap on the weekends for sorely needed peace and quiet from the bustle of the city.


 

 

On the way to Quantico, Hannibal noticed Will was more pensive than usual. His encounter last night with his guest and the loss of control over his bladder still weighed heavily on Will’s mind. After the incident last night changes were needed to the security system Hannibal originally placed in the basement. An upgrade in the lock mechanism would be looked into as well as a silent alarm on Will’s door. Hannibal anticipated Will’s night terrors but not the sleepwalking. Last night’s near catastrophe and Will’s subsequent embarrassment and terror would be a useful advantage for Hannibal. Will’s loss of control over his physical being would make him question, even more, his mental stability. He would need Hannibal as his anchor and paddle more than ever.



 

 

“That’s him!”

 

“Are you sure?!”

 

“Yes... Yes! Look! It’s the same kid!”

 

Will kept his eyes glued to the newspapers sprawled across the booth table he was leaning over in the FBI cafeteria.  Sitting on his knees so he could reach the top of the newspaper, he had his chin propped in his hand as he skimmed the papers.  He was searching for any articles about missing little girls or any accidents or incidents at theme parks. Nothing. Will’s scalp prickled from the agents in training whispering about him.  He was not sure in what context he fell into their discussion, but he hoped they would leave soon.

 

“Excuse me.”

 

No such luck. Will looked up with his professor’s expression of “this better be good.”

 

“Aren’t you the kid from the video?”

 

Will looked confused. “I’m not sure what you are talking about. I think you’re mistaken.”

 

He looked back down at the newspaper clearly ending the discussion. The agent stayed as she tapped something into her phone, Will assumed it was an update about mystery kid's name.

 

“Have you not seen it? You were singing a song to a baby in the market.”

 

Will’s head whipped up as he looked at the agent who handed her phone to him. Sure enough, there was Will singing to Lily. His eyes widened as his stomach plummeted.

 

“How... how did you get that?” he asked, handing the phone back with a shaking hand.

 

“Oh honey, did you not know? You're an internet sensation. That video went viral. You and that little baby girl are so sweet! They call you the Baby Whisperer!“

 

The two smiled awkwardly at Will as he processed this new information.  Will mouthed the words Baby Whisper. Him? Will Graham? The most standoffish prickliest asshole around the Baby Whisperer?! He always wanted to be a father. He would have been a good a dad. Will mentally shook himself. He’s not dead! He can still have a family.

 

“Hey, Will, are you okay?”

 

Will watched Beverly slide her tray on the table, looking at him and the agents.

 

“Yeah. We were just talking to him about the video and how cute he was singing.”

 

Beverly made a yikes face. “Right the video.”  She looked at Will who clearly realized she knew about it.

 

“You knew?”

 

“Um. Yeah.”

 

“You didn’t say anything? Did Lisa make it?”

 

Beverly smiled apologetically at the duo. “Do you mind giving us a moment alone?”

 

The women waved at Will as they moved away from the table whispering.

 

“Yeah, she did. Lily loves it. Lisa plays it for her when she is fussy and it calms her right down…”

 

“Why the hell would she put on the internet?! Why didn’t she ask! Now everyone will know who I am!”

 

“They didn’t know your name.”

 

“Well, they do they now!” Will pointed to one of the women who was tapping something into her phone.

 

“You don’t know that is what she is doing.”

 

“Really? I am a damn good profiler, Bev!”

 

“Well they know don’t your last name and besides, this is the best press you’ve ever had.”

 

Will crossed his arms and glared out the window.

 

“The bright side is you photograph really well. Maybe you could be a model. Show me your happy face.”

 

Will glared at her. “Why don’t you shut the hell up!”

 

Beverly smiled and took a bite of her sandwich.

 

“Such language, Will.”

 

Will looked at Hannibal.  He pointed at Beverly.

 

“Her sister put a video of me, without my permission, on the internet!  Now everyone has seen it!”

 

“Ah yes. I’ve been fielding local news stations asking for a brief interview all this morning.”

 

“Wow! That was fast.” Beverly added.

 

Will’s mouth was dropped open as his face contorted with betrayal, which morphed quickly into a righteous fury.

 

“You knew?! And you didn’t tell me?!”

 

“I didn’t see the point in upsetting you.”

 

“How did that work out for you?”

 

“Will...”

 

“Just...Just...don’t…”

 

Will clenched his jaw as he sputtered out the words. He stood up on the attached bench seat.  His hands crumpled the newspaper as he fumbled to close and fold it, before just balling it up in frustration as he jumped the seat. On the way out of the cafeteria, he threw the newspapers away and pushed through the line of adults who muttered with  shock over Will’s rude behavior.  Will, unfazed from the comments, fumed all the way up the hall. He clenched his fists so tight that his nails pierced his skin, ebbing the flow of his emotions until he calmed himself enough to stop. He found himself in front of the library on the campus.  Will sighed, running up the steps. His breath was heaving when he entered the library. The person at the desk gave him a perfunctory look before turning their attention back to a computer screen.  Will still wore his visitor's badge.

 

He walked through the stacks until he found a solitary corner with a computer. Will decided to pick through the database, searching for murders in amusement parks and theme parks. There were a disturbing number of them. He narrowed his parameters but nothing popped for him. Will pulled up a general search on the internet and found several sites with information and theories regarding paranormal activity and urban legends surrounding crime scenes.  Some of these sites were devoted to a theme park and amusement parks in general where macabre themes, as well as criminal activity, had allegedly taken place. There was even a local group in Baltimore.

 

Of course, there is snarked Will under his breath.  It was called Chill Seekers. It was run by some college students and amateur paranormal hunters. They had a website with a forum, as well as a regular monthly meeting. He huffed and crossed his arms, sitting back against the hard back desk chair.  He pinched the bridge of his nose as he felt sweat fall from the back of his neck down his spine underneath his shirt.  Will’s fever returned suddenly then quickly stopped, leaving him feeling chilled. He shivered.

 

“Find anything useful?”

 

Will didn’t look up.  Instead, he placed his head on his arms crossed on the table in front of him.

 

“Nope,” came the muffled reply to Dr. Lecter.

 

“I should have told you.”

 

“Yes, you should have.”

 

“I wanted to protect you.”

 

Will snorted. “I appreciate the thought. I am a big boy. I can take it.” Will raised his head up. His hair was wild from his brief rest. “No one can escape the internet.”

 

“That’s true. If you are finished, I have things I need to attend to at the office.”

 

Will sighed and nodded before signing out of his account. He slipped into his coat Hannibal held out for him.

 

As they descended the stairs, Hannibal’s phone beeped. Will watched Hannibal pull it out of his pocket.

 

“It’s a text from Jack.  There’s another body.”


 

 Denied entry to the latest crime scene, Will returned to the amusement park alone a few days later. There were two more murders where the bodies were manipulated like dolls for playtime. One was found on a carousel, the woman’s hair was rolled into ringlets with tattered red ribbons pinned at the top of her head. Tied to the carousel’s unicorn, she had violet colored glassy eyes with painted eyelashes and smiling red lips. She was clothed in a dress that made her look like a white cupcake with all the lace and frills. The other body was a man discovered in the front seat of the roller coaster. This corpse disturbed Will the most. The man was blonde and wearing a horrible imitation of a three piece suit. His hair was styled as though it was swept back from the wind. His eyes were red and his mouth was sewn up at the edges. His arms were hung above his head in a parity of a patron enjoying the rush of the ride.

 

Observations made through second hand photographs and notes from the team were not enough for Will to fully immerse himself in the killer’s mind. His frustration was palpable to those around him.  It pooled into his extremities where it slithered back up his veins, wrapping itself around his mind. Every waking moment Will thought about the murders and getting back to the amusement park. The morning he found his way back to the scene Will knew, nothing would stand in his way.

 

Will had ridden with Hannibal to his office this morning. The night before he had packed his backpack with things he might need. As soon as Hannibal’s sessions began, Will was out the door and on a bus. Once there, he stood briefly inside the park. He closed his eyes, waiting for the tug. It was there pulling him into the direction he needed to go. He briefly walked to the carousel, but then felt the pull to the roller coaster.  Will’s eyes landed on the opening to the funhouse. The clown’s mouth was open with white teeth as the door. Will gripped the linoleum knife inside his jacket pocket as he walked inside the funhouse. He followed the maze of mirrors. He was hyper-aware of every sound and every movement in the shadows. All he saw was puffs of dust dancing in the sunlight. He made his way to the bottom floor where he had regained consciousness from his fall. It looked like a typical business basement. There were items stored, including an extra mirror, props, and boxes. As Will walked around the boxes, he spotted one tilted over, a few pictures spilling out onto the floor.

 

Will pushed the box upright, causing more photographs to fall out. Shuffling through them he found all the typical amusement park marketing photo ops. The pictures captured the rides and game booths when it all was brand spanking new. Towards the middle of the pile, though, the photographs become older. They looked from around the 1900s. There were photographs of conjoined twins and women with beards. Freak shows , Will murmured.

 

Then he came upon one that made his blood run cold. He pulled it from underneath the pile to get a better look. It was the women from the first murder, or at least looked like an ancestor of the women who had been found. She was sitting exactly as the corpse had been posed. Will swallowed. He brought the photograph closer for inspection when something captured his attention. The little girl in the mirrors. She was standing in the background, smiling. Will shuffled through the other photos quickly. Finding nothing similar, he opened the box and poured out the contents. With shaking hands, he dug through the pile on the floor until he found one matching the woman on the carousel. Again, the girl was there, though this time her teeth were long, like daggers, and her eyes were nothing but black pits. In this picture, the girl’s dress appeared translucent and Will was able to see the background through it.

 

He set that one aside with the other one he had found. He continued looking to see if he could find the man on the roller coaster.  When he found the similar picture, the man is no man, but a teenager. Will sat down holding the photograph tighter. The teenager looked like Hannibal.

 

He stood up clutching the photograph, eyes focused on the teenager’s face.  Will’s mind clicked in place as though something were stuck in the gears.  He heard a sound from coming from somewhere.  It set his nerves on edge and he pocketed the photographs to look over later.  He trembled as he glanced down at his Mickey Mouse watch.  It was a gag gift from Beverly along with his official Mickey Mouse corded telephone circa 1970’s for his room at his “city” estate, as she came to call Hannibal’s home. Will installed the phone, a simple wiring matter, and wore the watch faithfully. He did a double take when he realized he had spent too much time at the park.

 

Will needed to be at Hannibal’s office before the last patient was finished. He had slipped away without telling Hannibal where he was going. Will was surprised his ankle did not sport a GPS tracker system so Hannibal could monitor his whereabouts. On days like those, Will really missed and appreciated his own father’s lack of parental involvement in his day to day activities.

 

Will dashed up the stairs toward the entrance and headed to the street where he could catch a bus. He had insisted Hannibal buy him a bus pass. Will demanded some form of independence and Hannibal agreed as long as he carried a knife or concealed pepper spray. With that compromised under his belt, Will found childhood under the watchful attentive eye of Hannibal Lecter somewhat bearable.

 

However, Will knew today’s adventure of his would garner the “I am so disappointed in you” look and then a deep sigh. A look, Will loathed admitting, sent waves of guilt crashing inside of him.  Hannibal’s almost daily admonishes that Will should take better care of himself twittered in his mind.  Going to the amusement park alone was foolish on his part, Will recognized.

 

Will saw the bus pull into the bus stop. For once fate and luck were with Will as he caught it just in time to make it back before Hannibal knew he was gone. Will sprinted the last few feet, huffing when he climbed onto the bus.  He looked around after finding a seat, thankful he remembered to bring the photographs with him.  Later he would tell Hannibal about finding them and what he thought they meant.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Will hated that he was the unreliable narrator of his own story of late.  Time slipped away from him, or in some cases, totally vanished from his memory. Like the fact, apparently, that months ago he had accepted Hannibal’s invitation to see the gothic ghost opera, The Turn of The Screw.  Will had just slipped back into Hannibal’s waiting room and sat down his backpack and himself when Hannibal opened the door, as though he was waiting for Will’s return. It rattled him even further. Will thought Hannibal was about to chastise him, instead Hannibal merely raised an eyebrow. He asked Will if he was ready to go and did he remember the opera was this week.  Will looked perplexed and that is when Hannibal informed him that he had promised to attend one with Hannibal months ago.


"Did I…?”

 

“Yes, you promised. I understand if you do not wish to attend. But it is last minute to find a sitter.”

 

Hannibal stated as he ushered Will through the door locking it behind them. Will followed Hannibal to the car.

 

“I don’t need a sitter, really, I’ll be fine.”

 

“Appearances, Will. We have to keep them up. Do you want to have an investigation by children's services?”

 

Will grimaced. “Right and I did promised.  Sorry, I didn’t mean to be difficult. What am I going to wear?”

 

“I plan to take care of that right now.”


That is why Will stood dutifully behind Hannibal looking at all the fabrics and clothing lining the walls inside a small tailor shop downtown. The owner, a short jovial Italian man wearing a measuring tape around his neck and scissors inside a breast pocket, smiled broadly as he and Hannibal spoke in his native tongue.

 

As the two spoke to one another, Will walked around the area tentatively touching different types of fabric.  Will returned when he heard his named called.

 

“Ah, this is your young gentleman, Dr Lecter?” asked the tailor with a twinkle in his eye.

 

“Yes. William, this is Mr. D’Angelo. Mr D'Angelo is one of the best and quickest tailors in Baltimore. This is William Graham.”

 

“Nice to meet you, Mr Graham. I have your suit ready. You just need to try it on and see if there are any last minute adjustments needed.  Please follow me.”

 

William followed behind the tailor casting a knowing look at Hannibal. The man had set them up weeks ago apparently. Hannibal could have arranged for a “sitter” within that time frame easily.  The tailor led them to a changing area with a fabric curtain pulled back. Inside the cubicle was a small, dark navy suit.

 

“Here you are. Just put everything on and come out when you are ready. Come to the dais here. And stand on it, understand?”

 

Will nodded before he entered the cubicle and Mr D'Angelo dropped the curtain. Will heard the men began to converse again. Will sighed as he studied the suit. He carefully undressed. He pulled off a seafoam green buttondown shirt from the hanger. Once that was on, he pulled on the dark navy trousers. He found a vest with blue and green triangles that reminded Will of fish. The bow tie’s pattern was monochromatic rod and reels. It made Will smile at Hannibal’s novelty. He then slipped on the suit jacket. He inhaled deeply before pushing the curtain aside. He walked up the platform looking at his stocking feet. Will looked up at the three-way mirror. The suit was a near perfect fit. Of course, it is. Will shook his head with a small smile.

 

All in all the suit was soft and warm. The collar was not tight and the material was not scratchy. The look was elegant with a twist. The suit was appropriate on Will, not making him look like a small adult or too much like a baby.  The tailor smiled as he fussed with the length of the pants and the cuffs of the jacket. Will felt the pleasure and pride in work well done from an artisan in his well-honed craft. Will looked at Hannibal in the reflection of the mirror. Hannibal looked smug.

 

“Well, what do you think?”

 

“I think you look very handsome. The question is, what do you think?”

 

“Ummmm...I like it.  I really like the tie.”

 

“I thought you might.”

 

Hannibal gave a genuine smile for that compliment.  He turned his focus on Mr. D’Angelo.

 

“Wonderful work as always, Mr D’Angelo. I think the only adjustment might be the cuffs.”

 

“Thank you, Dr. Lecter. It won’t take me but a few minutes.” He took the jacket carefully off Will and scurried to the back with it. Hannibal walked up to Will, smoothing the back of the vest before he straightened the bow tie.

 

“Thank you for the new clothes.”

 

“You are most welcome.”

 

“I think I can say with confidence that I have never owned a bespoke suit as a child before.”

 

“Now you are able to make that claim.”

 

“That’s one off the bucket list.” Will grinned at Hannibal as he chuckled in return.

 

“Ah, here we are,” Mr. D’Angelo returned with the coat, helping Will slip it on.

 

“Perfect,” stated Hannibal.


 


Hannibal had never accompanied a child, or Will for that matter, to a formal theater production. This whole new experience was enlightening and unpredictable. Hannibal was entranced by Will’s face during the performance. Will emoted everything as an adult. Will could barely contain or hide anything on his expressive face. As a child, however, where Will’s  barriers were not fully reinforced and forts were only piles of rocks, oh the things Hannibal saw and experienced through Will were magnificent.  Hannibal felt like he had sampled and savored a meal like no other.  Flavors that were passé were reborn. Colors that had lost their hue were now bold again. It was like Hannibal was experiencing this opera not only for the first time but it was the actual birth of the composition.

 

Hannibal’s eyes drifted toward Will every few moments to gauge Will’s reaction to his surroundings, as well as Turn of the Screw with its dark themes.  Hannibal had thought the subject matter most apropo given Will’s career and mind when he suggested he and Will attend it.

 

Will pulled his chair to the edge of the balcony of their private box. He sat sideways in his seat so he could lean his torso against the balcony itself with his arm on top.  He rested his head on top of his arm.  Will’s eyes were directed toward the stage. Hannibal noted Will kept the tiny plushy out, idly playing with the ears.

 

“I brought you something.”

 

“You did?”

 

“Yes.”

 

Hannibal pulled out from his pocket the small husky plush dog, Timbre, Beverly had given Will.

 

“Is this a joke? Why would you bring that?”

 

“You look disappointed.”

 

“I guess I was expecting opera glasses or something.”

 

“My eyesight excellent, so alas, I do not own one. The reason I brought this is two fold,” Hannibal stopped waiting for Will, when he received no other question Hannibal continued, “It is a grounding object for when you feel you need it and as a comforting object. I know you are uncomfortable in crowds. More so now than ever.”

 

Will looked up Hannibal and then to the plushy. He sighed then held out his hand. Hannibal smiled and chuckled as he placed the toy in Will’s waiting hand.


Will’s eyes looked distant.  Hannibal mused what Will could be thinking about. Was he thinking about killing? The case? Some childhood memory? Maybe a childish thought about boredom, perhaps? It was easy to see when the two were alone, Will fought less with his child biology than when they were out in public. Will was increasingly becoming comfortable depending on him.


 

Will felt hot and sleepy sitting watching the opera.  His eyes blinked slowly when he saw her.  Will slowly sat up in his seat shifting slightly.  She was behind one of the singers on the stage.  Will watched her shadow the actress’s movements before she looked up at Will and smiled.  Invisible fingers ran up his spine as sweat ran down it.  She waved.  Will caught himself returning the wave.

 

“Will? Is something wrong?”

 

Will glanced back at Hannibal before shaking his head no.  When he turned back to the stage she was gone.  His hand clenched around the dog’s neck tightly before the house lights came up and after the curtain dropped. He blinked.

 

“Intermission. Would you like some refreshment?”

 

Will nodded, placing the dog in his seat then following Hannibal to the lobby. At the lobby,

Will commented he could use a whiskey but was handed a Seven Up instead. Hannibal was smiling too much in Will’s opinion, but before he could make a scathing comment, a woman in a red dress appeared.

 

“Who is this darling little gentleman you have with you, Hannibal?”

 

Will felt a hand laid on his shoulder and Hannibal’s presence at his back.

 

“Hello, Mrs Komeda. This is Will Graham. Will, this is Mrs Komeda.”

 

“Nice to meet you.” Will held out his free hand, taking Mrs. Komeda's hand and shaking it firmly.  The woman giggled.

 

“How charming. You know the youth these days are so ill-mannered.”

 

Will could sense Mrs. Komeda was dying to ask Hannibal all about him. It was pouring off the woman, drowning Will. It was just one of many looks they were receiving. The emotions from the elite were strangling Will. He stepped closer to Hannibal when Franklyn appeared with another man in tow.

 

“Good Evening, Dr. Lecter.”

 

“Good Evening, Franklyn.”

 

Will giggled when he saw the look Mrs. Komeda gave Franklyn’s interruption as if to say, see what I mean. Franklyn observed Will.

 

“Oh, it’s you. Hello, Will.”

 

“Hello, Frank.”

 

Will gave him a toothy smile as Hannibal turned his head, smothering his barely there smile.

 

Franklyn’s attention fell back to Hannibal as he chatted away about cheese, being Hannibal’s patient, and finally introducing Tobias Budge. Will found his drink very fascinating, as he ignored the stares from the other patrons. He moved closer to Hannibal’s leg, enabling himself to hide behind it. Will allowed himself to observe the other predator in the room that Franklin had unknowingly brought. The stupid silly man would be murdered before the year was out, Will predicted in his head.  Tobias’s deep green eyes locked onto Will.  His smile fake. Mrs Komeda, in a small attempt to rescue Hannibal from his admirer, cleared her throat.

 

“Hannibal, isn’t this opera a little dark for Will?”

 

Hannibal opened his mouth to speak when he was interrupted by Franklyn.

 

“Oh, I doubt he understands what’s even going on.”

 

Of all the gall! Fumed Will.

 

Turn of the Screw is based on the Henry James novella.  It is the classic operatic ghost story. A Governess moves to a country house to take care of two children.  She discovers supernatural goings on, and hints of past abuse. As she gets to know the children better, she becomes increasingly convinced that they are suffering some form of demonic possession. All building to a chilling final scene. The question is, is it in her mind or is it real? A modern study on mental illness wrapped within religion superstition.  Wouldn’t you say, Dr. Lecter?”

 

Will looked up at Hannibal. His eyes crinkled in pride with a pleased smile as Mrs. Komeda held a gloved hand over mouth in an attempt to hide her mirth but failed. Franklyn’s expression changed from surprise to irritation while Tobias’s amusement that his friend was bested by a child was not hidden at all in his chuckle.

 

“I believe so, William.  It seems intermission is over. Let us return to our seats.”

 

The house lights flickered and a chime rang alerting patrons to the impending start of the performance. Will nodded.  Hannibal turned away.  Franklyn huffed and his eyes fell on Will who stuck his tongue out at the man. He smiled gleefully as Franklyn sputtered, red in the face as Will left with Hannibal.


 

Hannibal unbuckled and carried in a sleeping Will into the house. Will had fallen asleep on the drive back from the theater.  Hannibal didn’t have the heart to wake him when Will slept so peacefully. Hannibal quietly took Will upstairs to his room and then gently laid him on the bed. He slipped his shoes off, then his clothing before changing Will into his night clothes. Hannibal tucked Will into his bed before heading across the hall into his own for the night.

C.Ward2017

Ch


 

 

Will woke up suddenly. He shivered looking around the shadowed room. His eyes and ears were straining to figure out what woke him up. Will recalled leaving the theater and being carried out by Hannibal, but not the ride home or getting into bed. Hannibal must have tucked him in after he fell asleep. His backpack laid open on his desk. The photographs spilled out from it. Did Will put the backpack there?

 

Will heard movement underneath the bed. He leaned over the bed and suddenly saw two eyes. A small hand grabbed him and pulled him under the bed with far more strength than Will experienced before. Once under, another hand covered his mouth, preventing any noise from escaping. It was the girl from the fun house. Who was she and how did she get here? The girl practically laid overtop Will in the cramped space. She placed a finger to her lips asking for silence and Will nodded in understanding. She removed her hand from his mouth.  Will’s eyes were wide and his body shaking.  He gulped.

 

“You are supposed to play with me, not him!” she hissed, her eyes shining black in the shadow.

 

“Who...who…?”

 

“Hannibal! You are my friend! Not his! He ruins everything! You are my friend, Will Graham!”

 

“Who...are you?”

 

“I am Helen.”

 

For the first time, Will was close enough to see Helen. Her skin was alabaster and her hair platinum white with curls. Along with the tattered navy ribbon, her hair was scattered with dirt and leaves. . Her eyes were a pale milky blue.  At one time her dress was a dark navy with a bright white and red trim, now, however, all the colors of the navy dress were muted.  Helen smelled like earth, decay and something else...something other.  Will couldn’t put his finger on it. It was out of place because it was not a smell associated with death.  It was as though Helen was “borrowing” the body of the little girl.  It was unnerving, to say the least.

 

Suddenly, a wicked smile broke out across Helen’s face as she held up his cell phone. Will made a grab for it but she held it away from him giggling.  There was a flash with a click from the camera app.

 

“Hey! That’s mine!” his voice rose in agitation.

 

She pinched his arm as she shushed him. “Be quiet! He’ll hear you! Then you’ll get it!”

 

Will rubbed his arm looking at the strange girl.

 

“Get what?”

 

She smiled as she slid her hand across her throat making a cutting sound. She laughed at the look on Will’s face before she screamed suddenly. The girl clutched the carpet, nails digging into it as someone pulled her by her legs out from underneath the bed. Her high pitch wail threw Will into action as he grabbed onto her arms to prevent whatever force from taking her.  Will held on as long as he could before she was ripped from his arms. He crawled forward hitting his forehead on the frame before coming out. He hissed, stunned from the impact and the pain.

 

When he emerged from underneath the bed a few seconds later there was nothing. No sign of  Helen. Will stood up. He turned around, scanning the room before quickly hitting the light switch. He shielded his eyes, squinting in the bright lit room. Still he found nothing. Not even drag marks in the carpet were evident.  Will looked out the door and down the hall. No Helen. Will turned off the light so as not to wake Hannibal with his activity. He touched his head when a trickle of blood flowed into his eye. He blinked. Will went to the bathroom to clean the cut with a pounding heart and shallow breath. His thoughts were jumbled together.

 

Will’s head hurt and head wounds always bleed like a son of a bitch. Will wondered if this was a nightmare. Was he even awake? Did he disassociate? He felt his insides quake from cold and fear. Will was afraid to tell Hannibal. If he was awake, how did the girl get to Hannibal’s house? Was the girl a ghost? Was she alive?  What was happening to him?


Will timidly crept back into his room looking around.  It was still silent as the grave. He sighed, climbing back underneath the covers, covering his head and burying himself as far down as he could go, pulling his dogs with him. Will felt like a scared rabbit hiding in his burrow.  He tossed and turned, trying to coax his mind into sleep, but it refused to go. When he did drift for a few minutes, he and Helen were the children in the Turn of the Screw . The woman from his nightmare the other night was the Governess trying to save them from demonic possession. The demon rose up black with red eyes and rack of antlers.  They were running when the demon caught Will by the throat and pulled him down into hell. Will was unable to breathe or scream.

 

Panting for air because the sheets were wrapped around Will’s throat, he fought his way out into the morning light.  Will’s eyes were bleary as they focused on the window curtains. That’s when he heard it—The sound of a phone chirping right before the battery dies. His phone! The girl! Helen brought his phone! Will tore the covers apart l ooking for the sound before it stopped, then stopping when the sound stopped until it started again. Thinking maybe the sound had come from under the bed, he crouched under and spied a faint glow under the dresser. He crawled out, quickly heading over to it but his arms were too short. He grabbed a hanger and was able to knock it out. It was his phone! The screen and case were cracked but it was dimly lit as it blinked a final warning before powering down fully. The screen now black.

 

He smiled as held the phone. His trembled as his mind perceived that Helen was not a nightmare but she was real. She brought the phone to him. How else did it get there?

 

“She took a picture!” he whispered audibly.

 

“Will needed to charge the phone. He could prove she was real. Why was this important? He could see Hannibal asking the question in his mind. Because I am not crazy and I’ll prove it, thought  Will, his lips pressed firmly together.

 

“Will? Did you hear me call?”

 

Hannibal’s smooth voice startled Will from his thoughts. His heart leaped as he stumbled backward tripping over the covers strewn in a heap over the floor.  He clutched the device to his chest.

 

“Oh! Sorry! No, I didn’t.”

 

Will struggled to get to his feet as Hannibal took a few steps in the room.  His eyes swept the room assessing the chaos of it.  Will stood up. Hannibal’s face was calm but his eyes were concerned. Will turned around looking at the room as well. Covers and the pillows were on the floor, which Will expected to find with how he slept last night. However, Will’s closet doors were open and his clothes were off the hangers piled on the floor. The dresser’s contents were piled on top or hanging from the drawers themselves. His backpack was in a corner. The desk chair in the middle of the room with piles of papers scattered everywhere. The only thing that was remotely neat was the desk. There laid the photographs from the park neatly lined up in a grid fashion.

 

Will turned back towards Hannibal.

 

“I didn’t do it.”

 

Hannibal titled his head and then clasped his hand behind his back.

 

“Really? Then who did?”

 

“Helen”

 

“Helen?”

 

“The girl from the amusement park.”

 

Will stated as he stumbled over the covers again before he kicked then out of the way in irritation as he went over to the desk. He felt Hannibal behind him looking down at the desk as well.

 

“I assume she visited you last night?”

 

“Yes. She brought my phone to me. You don’t believe me do you?”

 

Will handed the damaged device to Hannibal. As he examined the phone, turning it over in his hands he asked: “What makes you say that?”

 

“Your tone of voice.”

 

“Your explanation does sound far fetched.”

 

“I am not trying to get out trouble because my room is a mess.  If I made it, I would clean it up.”

 

Hannibal sighed. “True but your imagination and your nightmares have created hallucinations before.”

 

“I was sick! With a fever! I am not this time! I have evidence, I think.”

 

“You think? ”

 

“On my phone. She took a picture of us.”

 

Hannibal expression was quizzical.

 

“She took a selfie.”

 

“A selfie?”

 

“When you say it like that, it sounds a little crazy. But when I charge the phone I can show you.”

 

“I believe you, Will. What have you there?”



Will gently touched the photographs.  He carefully picked each one up by the edges. Will held the one with Hannibal’s doppelganger on it.  Blue eyes lingered on the face that goose fleshed his skin with similarities to his friend. Gooseflesh prickled along his skin as his blue eyes lingered on the face so similar to his friend’s.

 

“Creepy isn’t it?”

 

“Yes, it is unnerving.” Hannibal’s hand reached for the photograph taking it gently. Will watched as Hannibal’s eyes narrowed and lips pursed.

 

“Something you’re not telling me, Hannibal?”

 

Hannibal’s eyebrow cocked. “Many things, but the secret to eternal youth is not one of them I am afraid. You have that secret.”

 

“Yes.  I have the market cornered at the moment.”

 

“Indeed you do. Did the girl bring these?”

 

“No. I found these when I returned to the park.”

 

“I see.”

 

A distinct chill filled the room from Hannibal’s reply. A twinge of remorse nagged Will that he kept Hannibal in the dark about his return there. Will wanted to protect his friend.  It wasn’t the need to feel the independence that was slowly but surely slipping through his small fingers.

 

“What drew you to bring these?”

 

“The recent crime scenes are staged like these photographs; well expect for the one that looks like you.  There are more, I brought that I haven’t looked through yet. I didn’t have time.”

 

Will didn’t mention the unease he felt alone at the scene.  His intuition told him Hannibal had already pieced that information together on his own.  Hannibal laid the photography carefully back in its place rubbing his fingers together as though they were soiled. He looked around the chaos of the room.

 

“I’ll straighten the room up before I come down for breakfast.” Will softly said.  Hannibal nodded before stepping gracefully stepping over the bedcover and heading downstairs.  Will piled the photos on top of each other pushing them to a corner of the desk before wrangling the covers into a lump beside the bed.

 

After making the bed, gathering all the papers back into the backpack, and placing it on top of the desk, he finally put the chair underneath the desk itself.Will looked at the closest walking over. His stomach growled. He decided to dress and eat breakfast before tackling the closet and dresser. Helen sure made a mess. The door was slightly ajar when he opened it.

 

A shriek was all he heard before Will was tackled to the ground, rolling feet over head backward, landing on his stomach with something on top of him laughing. Will groaned, shoving the laughing girl off him.

 

“What is wrong with you!” he yelled holding his neck. The pain in his neck from the twist and fall flared out from his chin to his cheek.

 

She laughed till tears ran down her gray paled face.  A gray blush dusted her cheeks.  Will stomped to the closet and pulled out jeans and a shirt.

 

“That’s not funny Helen!” he yelled.

 

“Your face!” was all she finally was able to say before Hannibal arrived at the door.

 

“Will? Are you alright? I heard yelling.”

 

Will pointed at the girl on the floor.

 

“If you called being tackled by a hellcat from out of a closet.  Then yes I am fine!”

Hannibal looked right at the girl crumpled in front of him. Her face now somber as she looked at him.

 

“Will, you are alone.”

 

“She’s right there in front of you.”

 

Helen got up crossed her arms as she circled Hannibal humming a song then she walked toward Will. Will’s eyes followed her. Hannibal watched Will curiously.

 

“Do you see someone, Will?”

 

Will nodded his eyes never leaving Helen until she was standing behind Will. She sighed as she rest her arm around him and her chin on his shoulder.Will turned his head to see her better. Helen grinned at Hannibal as he scowled in return at her. When Will turned his head back, Hannibal’s concerned expression had returned.  Helen puckered her lips as though she’s sucked on something bitter.

 

“Can’t you see her? She’s right behind me?”

 

Will’s voice sounded small and frightened, his blue eyes wide and beseeching Hannibal to understand him once again.

 

“No Will. Maybe you should eat something.”

 

Hannibal walked forward, hand raised to check for a possible rise in temperature. Will pulled forward but is jerked back to the girl.

 

“He can see me, Will! He is lying to you. Beware of his kind or he’ll put you in a pie!” she hissed in Will’s ear.

 

He winced from her hot, moist breath. Hannibal’s eyes flashed red as Helen smirked in triumph in provoking the naysayer in the room. A low growl came from the door as Winston entered, all teeth bared and hackles raised.  Will whistled low and spoke softly to his companion. He tamped down the fear that rose up. Winston was always a gentle animal and his aggression surprised Will to his core. He held out hand and spoke soft encouragement, thankful Helen or Hannibal did not interfere. Winston lifted a paw his head sinking down and eyes focused on Helen. The girl squeaked, backing away quickly. Will told her to stop moving in a firm voice.  His eyes returned to Winston and he tsked until he gained the dog’s attention. Once Winston’s attention was on Will fully, he approached Winston and laid a firm gentle hand on the nape of his neck. Winston’s snarl dissipated, leaving a whimper and licks of apology as Will soothed and petted his friend.

 

When Will looked back over his shoulder only Hannibal remained.  There was no sign of the creature Helen. Will was not sure what Helen was, but he was convinced she was anything but human.


 

 

Will took Winston’s collar and lead him downstairs to take him outside until everything had settled down.  Hannibal followed behind gathering up breakfast to reheat what he was able and then re plating. When Will returns from outside they cleaned up and had a quiet breakfast, each lost in their own thoughts.  Hannibal explained what was on his agenda for the day and then politely asked about Will’s plans. Out of curiosity, Hannibal had begun to help Will feel more in control of his life. Somedays it worked and others not so much, Will’s premonition this day would be one of those days. Before Will even uttered a word, a knock came from the door.

 

Hannibal went to answer it and returned with Alana. Will’s eyebrows rose.  She smiled as she entered the room.

 

“Let me guess. It’s Mom’s turn for visitation?”

 

Alana laughed embarrassed.

 

“Well not exactly. Hannibal thought instead of waiting at the office you might want to do something else.”

 

“Like what?”

 

“I don’t know. How do you feel about horses?”

 

“A pony ride?”

 

“If you want.”

 

“How about research on a case?”

 

“I think you need a break, don’t you?”

 

“I think I need to be 39 again.”

 

“Will” came an exasperated sigh from Alana.

 

A snarky chuckle, “That’s how I love you to say my name, Alana. With just enough annoyance and pity.”

 

“Whatever. Grab your coat.”

 

Will saluted as he passed Alana and climbed the stair to grab what he needed for the day with his sitter.  He headed back down, thankful there was no run in with Helen again. Once in the car with Alana, he asked, “So, can I call you Mommy dearest?”

 

Alana’s eyes flashed at him from the front seat. “Only if I’m holding a wire hanger, William.”

 

Will laughed.


 

The old amusement park the Enchanted Forest is believed to be the location of several hauntings, but none as famous as the specter of the little girl in the sailor dress. She is thought to be the lost soul of Helen Wilson, a girl who tragically disappeared without a trace in the late 1900’s. She, a wealthy daughter of the land barren Henry Wilson, came to the park with her father and her stepmother Honey Clementine Wilson. The match was much frowned upon by good society, fueled by rumors that the stepmother treated the child terribly. The child was left unattended at the entertainment known as the Fun House for a few minutes, claimed the parents, and when the child was called she did not appear. The house was searched thoroughly by the park employees, the parents, as well as the Baltimore police and fire department but all the trace found, was a gold heart locket the child always wore. A year later the remains of a small child wearing a sailor dress with a bow still in the corpse's hair was buried in a shallow grave near the amusement park. Even though a thorough investigation was made, no one was brought to justice for the little heiress’s murder.

Ever since that time, several children, as well as adults, have disappeared inside the funhouse to return a year later murdered. Witnesses, when there were any to be found, claimed to hear an echo of a little girl’s laughter or to see the reflection of a little girl in a sailor suit in the maze of mirrors.  At first the victims were found in shallow graves, but as the years progressed the victims were displayed around the amusement park on various attractions, creating panic among the patrons. Due to these murders, unforeseen financial troubles, and accidental equipment failure, the Enchanted Forest was forced to close its gates in the late 1980’s. That doesn’t stop vandals, the homeless, ghost hunters, and those seeking adventures to wander the grounds in search of the paranormal.

 

 

  • Chill Seekers website

 



Will sat back rubbing his bottom lip in contemplation after reading this passage.So many questions bombarded his mind. What was Helen? How did she follow him home? Why did she attach herself to him? Was she the reason for his age regression or was that a mere coincidence? Will wasn’t a fan a of coincidences or the hand of fate for that matter, but something was stirring the proverbial shit that was his life. It needed to stop right now!

 

He sighed in frustration hopping down from the lush couch he was occupying at the library of the Verger estate.Alana was tight lipped about how she and Margot Verger were suddenly so chummy that Will was allowed access to the Verger extensive resources. Not that he was complaining.

 

The most promising leads were from the Chill Seekers website and forum. He established an account to ask questions. In the next couple of weeks, their monthly meeting would take place. He planned for he and Hannibal to attend.If Hannibal couldn’t or wouldn’t go, Will felt sure bribing Beverly into driving him would be successful. Will looked out the window before picking up his sandwich laying half eaten on his plate. He ate the rest of his cold lunch, as he mapped out in his mind what his next move should be in this case. Will polished off his milk as Alana knocked softly coming into the room followed by Margot.

 

“Oh good you’ve finished. Are you ready to go riding?”





Chapter Text

Will’s limbs trembled from the cold. He briskly jogged up the front steps opening the front door of Hannibal’s home. He toed off his shoes as Alana caught up with the frazzled profiler letting the door close with a loud thud.

 

“Hannibal doesn’t like when you let the door fall shut like that,” Will grumbled as he hung up his coat on a special hook. Placed where Will would easily reach it without assistance, it was a small gesture from Hannibal.

 

Alana sighed as she grabbed a hanger from the open closet door and hung her coat up inside. She grimaced, closing the closet door gently.  They both startled when said man stood silently watching them both.

 

“Is there a problem?”

 

“No,” stated Will flatly, heading toward the staircase in a determined fashion to retreat immediately to the safety of his room.

 

“Yes,” countered Alana, arms crossed over her chest.

 

Will stopped on the second step and turned to face the other two. He crossed his arms leaning back against the wall. His chin tucked into his chest a soft snort escaped his nose.

 

“There was an incident at the Verger farm with Mason Verger.”

 

“It was nothing, Alana.”

 

“It wasn’t nothing, Will. You were pale and shaking. You were terrified.” Her voice rose in agitation.

 

“Did he hurt you?” Calm masked the undercurrent of suspicion in the accented voice.

 

Will glanced up in Hannibal’s direction as he moved toward him. Will put a hand up to stop his advancement. The mere thought of anyone near Will at that moment made him claustrophobic.

Hannibal did stop but his face was still filled with a genuine concern.

 

“No. He did not. He threatened. Not in so many words, but... Alana came around at a very opportune time... for me anyway.”

 

“There is no reason to be ashamed that you were afraid, Will. He’s a predator.” Maternal distaste dripped off the last word as Alana placed hands on hips and rocked in place. The need to pace was tamped down by the small enclosure.

 

“I realize that, Alana. I was caught off guard. I may look like a child, but I’m still a trained cop up here.”

 

Will pointed to his temple before stuffing his hands into his pockets and titling his head back against the wall. As he looked up toward the ceiling, he swore he saw the swirl of a grey and black skirt leave the railing on the second floor. Lovely, he thought, his inner voice sarcastic as hell.

 

“Perhaps, this conversation should be held later. There are guests here.” Hannibal’s eyes drift down the hall till they land on the library door.

 

“Oh, I am sorry Hannibal,” said Alana looking at Hannibal, her hand held in front of her red lips.

 

“No need. You were understandably upset.  But I do need to return to them. Will, would you please come with me.”

 

He waved Will over to himself. Will rolled his eyes. This was not the time for Hannibal to force social interaction on Will.  He shivered when Hannibal placed his hand on his shoulder—he could hear Mason’s voice inside his head from that brief encounter in the barn. It replayed without prompting and the volume was set too high.


 

“Would you like a candy bar?”

 

The hair on the back of Will’s neck stood on end. He side eyed the man speaking to him in the Verger barn. He was stroking the nose of one of the horses as they nuzzled and chuffed into Will’s curls.  There should be a neon DANGER sign that flashed over Mason Verger’s head for all children to see, the image flashed in Will’s mind.  Will shook his head no, his eyes barely making it past the white fur collar on the man’s coat...

 

“Not much one for talking? That’s just fine with me. But I bet you a screamer, aren’t ya?”

 

The last line was whispered close to Will’s ear. Hot breath ghosting over Will’s ear startled him enough to step away, looking at Mason with surprise venom.


 

 

Will hit the pause button on the recorded memory in his mind as he moved away from Hannibal’s hand. He felt the other man tense from the overt rejection but Will could care less right now. He would endured this social nicety, for Hannibal, then escape to his room.  The door opened to reveal the woman from the opera, Mrs. Komeda, wearing a tame black dress with white pearls. How very Breakfast at Tiffany’s , Will thinks. Beside her is a boy, who looks no more than twelve years old. His hair is a mousy brown, cut military short with quick green eyes. He was lanky with the awkwardness of youth. He watched Will closely. A little too close for Will’s comfort.

 

“Sorry for the delay, Mrs. Komeda. You’ve already met William here.  This is my associate Dr. Alana Bloom.”

 

Both women smiled and nodded giving the small greeting to each other.

 

“This is the charming Mrs. Komeda and her nephew Matthew Brown. Both boys gave a small wave and a juvenile hello.  The adults laughed quietly at the cuteness of the shyness of the children.

 

“Mrs. Komeda and Matthew are joining us for dinner this evening. Alana, you are welcome to stay. William, why don’t you show Matthew your room?”

 

Will freezes a moment. He smiled sweetly before he tugged Hannibal’s hand for the man look down at him.

 

“May I have a word with you in private, please?”

 

“My, such wonderful manners,” Mrs. Komeda complemented looking at the two as Matthew rolled his eyes.

 

“Certainly. Excuse us just a moment.”

 

They left, shutting the door behind them. Will took off down the hall, crossing his arms and tapping his foot when he stopped. Hannibal smirked, walking calmly toward him.

 

“Show him my room? What the fuck? What do you expect me to do?” Will hissed sticking his neck out like a cobra.

 

“Play.  Talk.  Whatever children do. Entertain him, William.”

 

Will raised his hands up and dropped them down like a heavyweight tethered to a line looking around at loss for a moment.

 

“I don’t know what kids do nowadays. I ain’t a kid!”

 

“You look like one. So for now. Fake it.”

 

“Fake it?”

 

“Yes. Act. Pretend. Let go. Take this chance to explore your inner child.  Learn from it, yes.”

 

Will stepped back, eyebrows up and lips open in shock. Okay. If that what Hannibal wants. Well, that’s what Hannibal will get.   Will’s internal monologue voice changed from his adult voice more to a petulant teenager snark.   Let the good times roll as they say.

 

Will stomped down the hallway to the library opening the doors with a flourish. He gestured Matthew over to him with an impatient wave of his hand.

 

“Come on it’s this way. I ain’t got much to play with.”

 

He turned abruptly, walking back out into the hall and brushing past Hannibal, nearly knocking the man over into an expensive vase.

 

“Careful, William.”

 

“Oh, sorry, Hanni!”

 

Will ran up the stairs as fast as he could, smirking as he went. His smile widened as he heard Matthew do the same thing. Hannibal’s voice was heard from the bottom of the stairs.

 

“Please walk boys.”

 

Will walked into the room and turned to watch Matthew come in with his backpack. He placed it on the table near the window.

 

“Hey, you got anything to eat?”

 

Will sighed, “Nothing good. Dr. Lecter doesn’t like junk food.”

 

Matthew’s lips took on a mischevious curve as he pulled out a bag of chips stashed in his backpack. “Want some?”

 

Chips! How long has it been since Will had honest to God processed chips? His mouth watered. He looked around before quickly closing the door. Matthew laughed, pulling out a soda and a Hershey bar.

 

“Wow!”

 

“I always have a stash. Have some.” Matthew motioned toward the bag of chips as Will suddenly felt shy. He took out a few. He knew Hannibal would be disappointed if he found out, but he’s an adult. Will goes to the bathroom and grabbed a cup to share the soda.

 

“You ain’t shittin’. You don’t have anything cool. No video games. No computer. Do you even have a phone? Is Dr Lecter... um, Amish or something…?”

 

Will shrugged. “Something like that. I have a phone but it’s charging. It might be broke; it fell from a great height.”

 

He took a sip of the soda, watching Matthew as the boy walked the perimeter of the room. Matthew paused at the desk. Will’s eyes widened as he gulped the lump of soda down that suddenly lodged itself in his throat. It burned and his eyes watered. He slammed down the cup. He rushed over to the desk to grab the files. Will had left them laying out on the desk confident that no one would disturb them. Now with Helen mucking around the house recently, Will needed to put sensitive material away. Will made a grab for the file as Matthew flipped through the crime scene photographs. He pushed Will down, blocking him with his larger body.

 

“Whoa, these are so cool! Who needs games! Are these real?”

 

His head whipped around, eyes focused on Will. He giggled at Will’s attempts to grab the folder as frustration mounted and Will’s face contorted into anger.

 

“Come on, Matty! Give them back! They're not mine!”

 

Will’s whiny voice sounded pathetic even to him. There was no way the older boy would give them back. Tormenting Will was true entertainment for the youth. After a small tussle, the sound of the rough housing became loud enough to possibly alert the adults. Finally, Matthew relented as he gave the folder to Will, but he kept one photo out, inspecting it closely. Will held out his hand grumpily waiting for it.

 

“You never answered my question. Are these real?”

 

“What do you think?”

 

“I think they are. Why do you have them, Will? You’re a kid.”

 

“It’s a long story. Come on. Please, Matthew.”

 

“I like it when you call me Matty.”

 

Will huffed, “Please, Matty.”

 

“Could I keep it? I shared my snack with you.”

 

“Keep it?” Will looked at him meeting the boy’s eyes. Matthew was curious, excited and something else... something akin to pride. Will’s eyes widened. “Sharing the chips is not the same, Matty. Why do you want to keep it?”

 

Matty shrugged, holding the photograph.  They held each other’s gaze for a moment before Matthew smiled and walking over to Will with it.

 

“Okay. I’ll give back, but I want something.”

 

“What now?”

 

“A kiss.”

 

Will folded his arms tucking the file under one of them. His cocked his head, his expression unamused, his hip jutted out. Matthew laughed.

 

“Just a kiss on the cheek.  Are you chicken?”

 

Will shook his head and grumbled about the ridiculousness of the situation. “Fine”

 

He walked over to Matthew and held out his hand. Matthew placed the photo in his hand and leaned with his cheek turned toward Will. Matthew still clutched the photo. Will leaned into give a quick peck when Matthew turned his head and Will’s lips landed on Matthew’s. Will gasped as Matthew smiled.

 

“What’s going on William?” asked a clearly miffed Hannibal.

 

Will physically jumped away from Matthew putting the photo behind his back. He felt heat in his cheeks.

 

“Nothing, Dr. Lecter,” said Matthew. He stepped over, slinging his arm around Will’s neck. He dragged Will closer smiling into his curls. “Just fooling around.”

 

Mrs. Komeda’s voice drifted from behind Hannibal.

 

“Is everything alright? Are they getting along?” a touch of hesitancy edged her voice.

 

“Oh, we’re fine Aunty,” assured Matthew. Will stood tucked inside Matthew’s arm like a small bird.  Childish guilt and embarrassment crawled through his skin creating the need to fidget as Hannibal’s intense gaze lingered on Will.

 

“Oh, good. You will need to wash up and come down for dinner.”

 

Mrs. Komeda’s light clicking footfalls could be heard echoing on the stairs.

 

“Yes. Be sure you leave the door open, William,” a chilly command from Hannibal as he too left the pair.

 

Will timidly nodded as he ducked from under Matthew’s arm. He placed the photo back in the folder and it back inside the cardboard box before heading into the bathroom to wash his hands. Climbing up on the footstool, Will was joined by Matthew at the vanity. They stood side by side. Matthew insisted on using Will’s sink even though there were two.

 

“You might want to wash off that bit of chocolate on your face there.”

 

Will inspected his face his in the mirror.  Seeing the swipe of chocolate on his chin caused a brief moment of panic to well up in Will’s chest.

 

“Shit!”

 

He quickly rubbed the offending evidence off as he glared at Matthew. The boy sniggered, drying his hands and leaving the bathroom. Will turned off the water. He closed his eyes briefly and gathered his thoughts. When he opened his eyes Helen stood next to him.  He startled, nearly falling off the stool as she laughed.

 

“New friend, Will?”

 

“Go away.”

 

“Why?”

 

“I don’t need any help from you right now.”

 

She stuck out her lip pouting. “I tried to help with that nasty old pig boy.”

 

“I know.” Will grimaced as the memory crowded into his bone fort.


 “Oh, you are a feisty one.  I can tell these things.”

 

Mason licked his lips moving cautiously closer toward Will.

 

“And you’re a pervert with too much money and influence.”

 

“Now that wasn’t very nice.”

 

“Neither are you.”

 

Mason’s overly cheery smile dropped as he advanced on Will who circled the horse, keeping the mare between him and Margot’s brother.  Will slipped on something. His eyes dropped to the barn floor. It was a photograph with Helen. She was standing with another child. Was he wearing a pig mask? She winked at Will. He gasped. Will glanced up at Mason who was watching him like prey. Will glanced back down but Helen was no longer in the picture. Will felt a presence at his back, he stiffened when he heard Helen’s voice whispering.

 

“He’s a nasty one. You know there’s a pitchfork buried under the hay there. See it over there?”

 

Will’s glanced over his shoulder to see Helen pointing at the glint of metal underneath the hay.  Will’s breath became shallow.

 

“All you have to do is lead him around just a little more and give a little push.  You’ll be doing everyone a favor.  I’ll help you.”

 

Will licked his lips. His eyes darted over to Mason.  If Mason saw Helen, his facial expression showed no signs of it. Will took another step and Mason followed. Yes, so easy. In Will’s imagination, he could see Mason’s eyes gleam before the look of confusion quickly became fear as Mason lay dying. Blood would gurgle up from his mouth as it would spill from his wounds. The pitchfork would be so shiny from the lights reflecting in the puddle of blood. It would be so… pretty... Will heard Helen’s voice whisper in his head. He shook the thought away, coming back from that darkness he wandered into too often these days.

 

“Mason, you aren’t frightening Will are you?” came Alana’s voice as she stepped inside the stall. Will took the opportunity to slide next to her and take her hand, his eyes never leaving Mason’s location.  The man smiled again and laughed.  Helen stood beside Mason now scowling in Alana’s direction.

 

“Oh no, Alana! We were having a bit of fun, weren’t we, Willy?”

 

Will said nothing but he trembled from the encounter. Alana briefly glanced down at Will. She smiled back at Mason.  They both never acknowledged Helen.  Helen’s eyes began to blacken as her fury built.

 

“Well, playtime is over.  Will and I need to be on our way. Come along, Will.”

 

Will let go of her hand briefly to grab the photograph and then took it again. He gripped her hand tightly as she led him out of the stall toward the barn exit. Once outside, Will finally exhaled.

 

“He didn’t hurt you did he?” asked Alana her eyes fixed straight ahead.

 

“No but... good thing you came along when you did.”

 

She squeezed his hand and nodded her head in agreement.  Will scanned the area, but no Helen.

 

“It would have been so simple Will.Getting rid of that nasty piggie man.  You would have done the world some good.” Helen admonished as she sat on his bed.

 

Will loathe admitting he agreed with her. It would have been simple and felt so righteous for all the harm Mason Verger caused.  He pushed the thought out of his mind.

 

“I gotta go. Just… Just leave me alone.”

 

Will practically ran down the stairs.  Once at the bottom he calmed his breathing. He approached the dining room. He checked behind him to ensure Helen was not following him. When he turned, she was standing right in front of him. He slammed hard enough into her falling backward abruptly.  He hit the back of his head and cried out in shock.  He opened his eyes to find a laughing Helen and a concerned Hannibal standing above him.

 

“Are you alright, Will?”

 

Hannibal reached down to help Will stand up. Will touched the back of his head wincing from the tenderness and clenched his teeth.  He looked at the smirking Helen.

 

“I am fine thanks. Must have slipped,” he gritted out.

 

Will’s eyes wandered over closer to Matthew who was smiling. Will walked to his seat as Helen walked around the table and approached Matthew. Matthew’s eyes followed her for a moment. Will did a small double take. His eyes focused on the other boy, who stuck his tongue out at Will before Mrs. Komeda gently smacked him in the chest. As she admonished him, Matthew giggled, his head bent but eyes on Will. He gave Will a knowing wink.

 

Will looked around the room but Helen was nowhere in sight again. Hannibal cleared his throat. Will slid into his chair once he realized he was the only one left standing.  If it were musical chairs he would be out. Was Will in or out of this particular game? Will’s eyes were focused on the other boy for most of the dinner who preened from the attention. Hannibal was not pleased. Will felt it in droves but Matthew... he was certain Matthew saw Helen. Could only children see Helen?

 

Will felt out of his depth here to say the least. After this last encounter with Helen, his mind turned to the possibility, this killer is somehow, someway, either influenced or possessed by Helen. What is Helen? A ghost? A demon? Something else?

 

Will thought if she were a ghost wouldn’t she want to know who killed her? Or for the world to know who killed her? If she was a ghost who needed rest or closure to move on, would she not seek that? She should be a ghost seeking revenge. There are thousands of legends of tales of those types everywhere in the South. Will knew there were supposedly ghosts who attached themselves to objects or sometimes people as well as places.That would explain why she came home with him when he took the photographs, but to come out of a photograph? To come into this world, this reality from the photograph and leave a blank space? That... That was something entirely. Where does one go? He needed a drink desperately.

 

All Will had were questions with no answers.  There was solid evidence of the crimes.  The motives of the killer were veiled and distorted like the mirrors in the fun house.  Will’s new condition and now the interference... manipulation... the whatever the reason Helen was haunting him was waylaying any true progress. It was all connected, but how? How important was Helen? Was she the key or was she mere coincidence that was nothing more than smoke and mirrors? Irrelevant to this case?

 

“William?”

 

Will blinked as his thoughts were brought back by his name.

 

“Sorry, yes?”

 

“Mrs. Komeda and Matthew need to leave.”

 

“Before dessert.”

 

The adults laughed.

 

“I am afraid so dear, but I’ll bring Matthew by again to play sometime. How does that sound?”

 

She asked as she stood at the dining room door, Matthew beside her looking at Will.

 

“Oh, yeah, great. Bye.”

 

He gave a small wave. There were murmurs as the guests headed out into the hall with Hannibal. Will heard footsteps run up the steps . Probably, Matthew getting his backpack.   Will sat back down with Alana. She laid her hand over his. He looked up at her.

 

“I’ll have to go soon as well. Please tell Hannibal about Mason. Promise me?”

 

“Okay, promise,” Will begrudgingly mumbled.

 

She gave him a smile and pat his hand before getting up and heading down the hall.  Will picked up his and Alana’s plates taking them into the kitchen. Soon after Hannibal joined Will with the other dishes from the dining room.  They worked quietly, cleaning the dishes.  Hannibal broke the silence first.

 

“You hardly touched your dinner.”

 

“Sorry. My mind is preoccupied.”

 

“Or perhaps too much-shared junk food made you lose your appetite.”

 

Will sighed. “I didn’t have that much, really. Sorry, Hannibal.”

 

Hannibal looked over at Will before changing the subject.

 

“Alana mentioned there was an altercation with Mason Verger.”

 

“Yes. He... he cornered me in a stall but... I was... Alana came just in time.”

 

Hannibal nodded his head.  His eyes focused on the task at hand. He rinsed a delicate wine glass.  His lips pursed.

 

“She mentioned you picked up a photograph off the floor before you left the barn.”

 

Will sighed placing down the dish towel he had used to dry the few dishes. He rubbed his eyes. They felt heavy and sore.

 

“Yes. It must have fallen from my pocket. I must have left it in my jacket by mistake.”

 

“One from the amusement park.”

 

“The very one.”

 

“Does it have Helen in it?”

 

Will canted his head to the side giving an irritated exhaled breath. His voice terse. “What are you asking Dr.Lecter?”

 

“Did you see Helen again?”

 

“Yes... She... climbed out of the photograph.”

Hannibal made no further comment.  Will went outside to bring Winston inside to feed him. Hannibal was no longer in the kitchen.  He moved into the study as Will dried Winston off, so that the dog was allowed to go into the study with them. Will left Winston feasting in the kitchen. He found Hannibal a creature of comfort and habit reading by the fire.

 

 

Will lingered by the door.

 

He hesitated for a moment until  Hannibal looked up.He beckoned him in and Will took his place in the chair beside him.

 

“You seem tired.”                               

 

“I am.  It’s been an exhausting day.”

 

Will closed his eyes, the heat washed over his body.  His mind drifted with no destination. It was delicious.

 

“Would you like to talk about the encounter with Mason, Helen, or Matthew?”

 

“No I would not,” a reply that was irritated and final in sentiment.  Will hoped Hannibal took the hint and did not press the matter.  A few minutes passed as the flames licked the walls in light and shadow. Will could find no comfort in the crackle of the fire as he often had before.  Hannibal’s silence brushed down his neck, sweeping upwards and tickling Will’s eardrum. Damnit!

 

“I just can’t right now. I am... too overwhelmed,” he muttered.  Will’s eyes sought the liquor cabinet. Once he was fully grown again he was drinking for days. No years. No months, he promised himself.

 

“I understand.  For tonight a break. However, our weekly conversations are needed now more than ever.”

 

“I am aware of that. I appreciate your indulgence... just not tonight… I can’t.”

 

“Perhaps later this week.”

 

“Everyone has a dream"


 

The amusement park photographs lay in a semicircle on the floor surrounding Will in his room.

It’s late or early depending on your perspective on time. He sat with his legs curled to his chest, arms tightly wound around them as he contemplated the images. They were fascinating as well as disturbing in their appearance and content. He leaned over, his hand hovered above the one of the rollercoaster for a moment before moving to the one of the barn.

 

The barn photograph was slightly charred with some water damage. The “barn” in fact was just a facade of a barn. The sign above the child head proclaimed “Pig Boy”.

 

A boy was standing on a stage with a deformed face—  piggish small eyes, a nose pushed upwards like a pig and ears with a flap of skin over them.

 

Will frowned in disgust over the obvious exploitation of the child in that era. Has it ever stopped he mused to himself. Helen was no longer in the picture. She had been, Will knows because he saw her before she emerged from the picture. Will’s skin dampened and tightened as he recalled the Verger’s barn.  He scrubbed his hand down his face.  Will knew she was there, just as he knew she sat beside him now.  Without moving his head Will sighed.

 

 

 

“What do you want, Helen?”

 

“I want you to save the girl in the basement.”

 

Will looked at her from between his fingers. “What girl?”

 

“The girl crying. No one saved me when I needed help. But you can save her, Will.”

 

Will groaned. What a load of horse shit! He looked at Helen with disbelief, but he felt worry and fear.  Will’s skin prickled.  He huffed a sigh. Helen’s eyes leaked tears as her lips trembled. She swiped them away from her cheeks with a thumb. It’s a bit over the top, Will thought but he felt it start to work. The need to help.  The need to right a wrong. The need to save someone rose to the surface and once there Will always followed through.  So, he asked.

 

“What basement?”

 

“Here. This one.”

 

He shook his head no.

 

“You can hear her crying in the kitchen. Go listen before... before it’s too late.”


 

 

Will tiptoed downstairs to the kitchen and strained to listen. He heard nothing but his heart until a faint sound like before. A crying. Someone was crying in the house. The source emanated from the pantry. Will placed a tentative hand on the doorknob until he was sure he heard the sound again. He turned the knob, half expecting it to be locked, but it turned easily and with only a faint click. He pushed open the door on well-greased hinges. His eyes adjusted to the darkness within the small room, only lit with the backlight from the kitchen windows. He saw a sliver of light from one of the shelves he walked toward it when suddenly he is blinded by the overhead light.

 

“Will? What are you doing in here?”

 

Hannibal stood in his robe with iPad in hand. He looked like he needed a pipe to complete the look for the quintessential father figure.  Will blinked his eyes.

 

“Don’t you hear that?”

 

“What, Will?”

 

“Shhhh... listen... there! Hear it?”

 

“What?”

 

“That? Someone is crying, Hannibal. Don’t you hear them?”

 

“Will, I think your imagination is taking over. These old houses have a life of their own.”

 

“I know when a house settles and when someone cries. This is real. Where does this door lead?”

 

“To the wine room. Do you want to look?”

 

Will crossed his arms and nodded his head. He felt like a shit but he wouldn’t sleep until he looked.

 

Hannibal set his iPad onto the counter in the kitchen and moved a couple items on the shelf. He pulled a lever and a panel opened. It sounded like a wail as the air rushed out of it. Hannibal entered the room, turning on the remaining lights. There were wine bottles stacked every where scattered throughout the room along with barrels.

 

“Thanks. Sorry, Hannibal.”

 

“Not a problem, Will.”

 

Will turned to leave the room when Hannibal gently took his arm, turning him to face Hannibal. He titled Will’s head up and placed a cool hand on his forehead.  He frowned.

 

“You feel feverish.  I need to gauge how high it is and give you something for it.”

 

Will nodded in agreement as he left the room, his toes now scrunching up because his feet were now very cold.

 

“You need to wear socks if you are not wearing your slippers, Will.”

 

“I get it, I will. I know better. yada yada.” Will felt suddenly petulant and tired as he climbed the stairs to his room. Hannibal watched him until he was safely into his room before heading back to the kitchen to fetch his iPad. He closed the pantry door, locking it behind him.

Wasn’t Will an asshole! Never listen to disembodied spirit you just met; especially one linked with a murder scene. What an idiot! Will grumbled at himself all the way up the stairs and into his room. A late fall storm whipped the trees outside into a frenzy as Will heard thunder’s soft boom miles away. Soon there was a quick flash of lighting. Will shivered heading over to the dresser. No wonder he was cold.

 

Will pulled out his dresser drawer and grabbed a pair of socks. When he closed it there stood a woman with dirty blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail. Her eyes were doe shaped wide with fear. Her frail slender hands gripped WIll’s arms tightly as she looked into his eyes. She was wearing a thin cotton white nightgown. Will couldn’t breathe as she shook him slightly.  This was the same woman from the dream!  The one from when he slept walked!

 

“You need to run. Now! Get out of here! You don’t want to die like this! I am so afraid!”

 

A high pitch whine escaped Will’s throat as he pulled away from the women, but her grip tightened. Her feeling oozed from her like tar pitch and covered Will in a thick liquid. He felt her confusion, her terror and her fear for his safety. The safety of this child from the killer in the house.  She suddenly dragged Will toward the window that faced the front of the house. There was a facade of a balcony there. Helen stood in the corner watching them.  The woman’s body knocked over the table of lures toppling it over out of the way. She unlatched the window as she pulled Will toward it. He fought her. The storm poured in through the window, rain and wind soaking the woman and Will.

 

“I am going to save you! You must run and never look back!”

 

She used all her strength to push Will toward the open window as he yelled for Hannibal. Will’s heart was pounding in his chest. The woman’s eyes were wide with panic as she used all her adrenaline to push him out of the window. Will’s hands clutched the metal railing from the facade of the balcony. He yelled for Hannibal.  The metal creaked and shook as Will’s weight pulled the screws away from the brick wall. Will yelled again looking at the concrete walkway below.  His legs shook as his feet slipped on the slippery brick. The sudden shift in weight pulled the outside of the metal railing further away from the wall.  It started to bend down toward the ground.  Will was stuck on the side furthest from the open window.  Will swallowed, body soaked from the biting cold as rain pulled his hair down into his eyes.  His breathing became shallow pants.

 

The women screamed as she suddenly disappeared from the window.  Hannibal’s head shot out of the window followed by his upper body and arms. He beckoned Will to him but Will hesitated frozen with fear.

 

“Will! Look at me! I will catch you! Come to me! There is no time to waste.”

 

Will leapt toward Hannibal who barely caught him before the metal bars pulled completely away from the house and fell to the walkway below. Hannibal clutched Will to him as though his life depended on it.  He whispered things into Will’s wet hair in broken English as Will sobbed asking who that woman was.

 

They heard sirens of the emergency response teams wailing down the street as they rushed to Hannibal’s home. Hannibal wrapped Will in his comforter. Hannibal would deal with everything downstairs and allow Will to stay here... After he left, Helen appeared standing by the bed. Will scowled at her.

 

“Do you believe me now?” she triumphantly smirked.

 

“No! Some crazy woman attacks me after you send to me investigate that sound? For all, I know you set me up! You crazy bitch!”

 

Helen’s eyes disappeared into black holes and her teeth grew large and razor sharp as they did when she was angry. She yelled at Will.

 

“I am not LYING!!! HE IS LYING! She was locked in the basement! She was crying! He is lying right now telling everyone you are crazy! See for yourself!”

 

Will sat there before huffing downstairs. Hannibal would prove her wrong. All her accusations all this drama and games would stop tonight.

 

Will paused behind Hannibal as he spoke with a police officer and a paramedic.

 

“..He has had some very bad fevers which have brought on hallucinations, nightmares, sleepwalking... I have been left in charge by his parents to help with these while he is treated for the physical symptoms. Until tonight most occurrences I have been able to contain within the confines of the house. I am sorry for the alarm and inconvenience.”

 

Will’s mouth dropped open.

 

“No... NO! That’s not what happened! There was a woman in my room! She said I needed to escape! She said you were dangerous that you were... a killer!”

 

Hannibal’s face was a look of concern when he faced the authorities again. They looked at WIll with pity. He growled, “It’s true! She is real!”

 

“If you’ll excuse me, gentlemen. I’ll need to sedate him.”

 

Will backed away, twisting his head looking for a way to escape. Why? Why did Hannibal say those things?

 

“William, calm down, please. You are alright. You are safe.” Hannibal held up his hands in a placating gesture. One hand held a needle. Will’s eyes zeroed in on the needle. He dropped the comforter as he ducked underneath a paramedic's arm heading toward the backyard. Winston was barking and growling. With a snarling Winston, he might have a chance to escape. He tripped and jumped up, making it to the french doors, but two police officers intercepted him there. He turned to find Hannibal behind him.

 

“William. Please. Do you want to go to the hospital? You would miss Winston wouldn’t you? Where would he go?”

 

The threat is subtle but Will knows exactly what Hannibal is implying. He felt tears well up in his eyes as he shook his head, rubbing his arms in a comforting gesture.

 

He hiccupped before he spoke “I’ll come quietly. You... don’t need that.” He pointed at the needle.

 

“I know you will, but I think you do.”

 

Hannibal walked swiftly over and injected it into Will’s hip before Will realized anything was happening to him. The cold medicine became liquid warmth he felt as though he was floating, but it was Dr. Lecter who carried him upstairs to Hannibal’s room.  After changing him into dry clothing, Hannibal tucked him in the bed.  Will’s eyes were so heavy and his tongue so thick. All he wanted to do was sleep with his doggies. Where were his doggies?

 

“Hannibal... Where’s my plushie dogs? Can I have ‘em?” he slurred.

 

Hannibal smiled.  He suddenly appeared with the mentioned stuffed dogs and placed them underneath Will’s arms.

 

“Thanks...” Will mumbled as his eyelids closed.











































Chapter Text

Will turned, groaning into his pillow. He heaved a sigh and opened his eyes to find only a small lamp lighting the bedroom. He blearily looked at the clock. It stated it was six pm. What day is it? Will wondered. He struggled with the covers from the bed. His limbs felt so heavy. His night clothes stuck to his damp body his mouth felt dry. It was the worse nonalcoholic hang over he ever had in his life. After a few half hearted attempts, he extracted himself from the bed making his way downstairs. Will heard the sound of music wafting along with the smells of something delicious cooking.  Will stumbled into the kitchen. Hannibal looked up from work.

 

“Good evening, Will.”

 

“What day is it?”

 

“It is Tuesday evening. You slept the rest of Monday and today away.”

 

Hannibal turned to shift something on the stove, adding an ingredient to a pan that was simmering something. Will walked further into the kitchen.

 

“Where is she?”

 

“Who?”

 

“Who? The woman who hung me outside of the window, that’s who?”

 

“Is that what you were dreaming?”

 

Hannibal turned a knob on the stove. He turned to slowly face Will. Will felt like his mind was imploding. What the hell was Hannibal talking about? Dreaming? Will looked at the scratches on the palms of his hands. They were an angry red.

 

“Dreaming? I wasn’t dreaming anything! I went upstairs. A woman was in my room! She grabbed me and pushed me out the window!” Will walked into the kitchen toward the counter. “I was hanging on and you pulled me inside. Then... you…” Will pointed an accusing finger at Hannibal. “You... told the police...  that I was sleepwalking... that there was no one there! You lied about me!”

 

Will’s fingers dug into his scratched palms as his hands curled into fists.  He shook with rage and betrayal.

 

“Will. I found you outside your window. There was no woman in your room. You were sleepwalking, Will. Remember, when you found yourself on the roof of your house?”

 

Hannibal walked slowly toward Will. His voice soft and soothing. Will shook his head.

 

“No... this is not the same. I know I was awake. I went downstairs. I heard crying.”

 

“Like when you heard the animal trapped in your chimney? Why were you awake?”

 

“I was working on the case.  I was looking for answers in the photographs.”

 

“The ones with Helen?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Did this Helen speak to you again?”

 

Will said nothing. Hannibal said nothing but raised an eyebrow.  Will felt something snap inside his head. Why was Hannibal lying? Who was this woman he was hiding in his basement? Will clenched his teeth. Will’s chest heaved his eyes narrowed.

 

“I want to know what the fuck is going on Dr. Lecter, right now!”

 

“Language, William!”

 

“I am a fucking grown ass man! I want to know what the fuck is going on! No more games! No more omissions.  Tell me!” Will’s lips snarled back from his teeth.

 

Hannibal’s beast showed through the cracks of his person mask. Will stepped back as Hannibal pointed a finger at him.

 

“If you continue to use foul language William, I will be forced to wash your mouth out with soap.” Filled with fear, but full of stubborn rebellion, Will squared his shoulders.

 

“I’d like to fucking see you try it! If you refuse to answer me, I’ll call Jack Crawford.”

 

That was the spark to start the fire. Hannibal surged forward as Will turned, sprinting away from the man. Will escaped twice from Lecter’s hold by kicking and twisting out of his hands. On the third time, Hannibal’s hands caught Will and held fast. He literally tucked the screaming and kicking boy under his arm, carrying him to the master bathroom. Hannibal turned on the water before he grabbed a bar of soap. One handed, he wet the soap, lathering it up before he placed Will roughly onto the counter.

 

He grabbed Will’s chin, squeezing it until Will’s mouth opened. Hannibal's soapy fingers went into Will’s mouth and made him gag. Will used both his hands in Hannibal’s wrist, twisting away just enough to loosen Hannibal’s grip. Will’s jaw snapped shut on the two fingers.  Hannibal roared as Will tasted soap and blood gushed in his mouth. Hannibal pushed Will’s head away from him to dislodge his fingers from the boy's teeth.  He shoved Will so hard away from him that Will hit the mirror, shattering it as he fell to the floor. Will scrambled to his feet, sliding, and ran toward the bathroom door. Running on pure adrenaline caused by fear and anger, Will rushed down the stairs and out into the dark night of Baltimore.

 

He ran and ran and ran as Hannibal’s voice seemed to get further and further away until he heard nothing but traffic. He shifted and dodged through the cars and back alleyways all in the hope of throwing off his pursuer.  His mind was full of panic as he tried to decide where he could hide from Hannibal’s punishment. He knew he had done it this time. Will remembered Beverly once talking about a standing bar date and inviting Will to join them. Some cop bar in Baltimore. Will racked his brain as he wiped Hannibal’s blood from his mouth and tried not to vomit from his nerves. Limping toward the downtown area, he realized the glass from the mirror must have cut him and that some of the blood on his head was his own.

 

After a few blocks, Will found the Old Ball and Chain Bar. He peered through the window. Luck was on his side for once and he saw Beverly. He snuck in the door between a drunk patron leaving and two coming inside. He walked quickly up to where Beverly was playing pool. He grabbed her hand, making the cool headed lab tech yelp. She looked down smiling before she saw it was Will.

 

“Oh God, Will! What happened?”

 

Before Will could stop himself, he grabbed her around the neck and started crying. He heard some gruff man's voice demanding she removes that kid from the bar. She told him to fuck off and that the kid needed her help. She lifted Will up, taking him to a dark booth in the back for privacy and to keep peace with the owner. Will heard Jimmy and Brian join her a few minutes later.

 

“Will. Will. Look at me, Buddy. Let me get that blood off your face.”

 

Will reluctantly turned his face. He felt Beverly wipe a wet napkin around his mouth.

 

“What happened, Will?”

 

Will looked up at her, his eyes watery.

 

He whispered, “I... I... bit Dr. Lecter”

 

“You what? Why?”

 

“He... washed my mouth out with soap.”

 

“He washed your mouth out with soap and you bit his…?”

 

“Fingers... to make him stop. Then he threw me at the mirror and it broke and I ran away.”

 

Tears ran down Will’s face. He felt Beverly’s hand on his forehead and then his cheek. Jimmy and Brian looked at each other. Will looked back up at Beverly.

 

“And... And... he has a girl locked up in his house... she’s in the basement... she threw me out the window and he lied and said she didn’t... and... and... my dog... Winston... he might hurt my dog...”

 

“Will. You’re burning up honey. I think you’re sick again.”

 

“But I’m not! It’s true! It is!” Will looked at Beverly and then Jimmy and Brian imploringly. “I am telling the truth!” He practically screamed. People started turning in their seats and looking in their direction.

 

Beverly carded a hand through his hair, shushing Will and rocking him in an attempt to calm him down, but Will pushed her away.

 

“I am not a baby! I am not a child! Please! Call Jack.”

 

“They already did, Will.”

 

Will looked at Jack and then his heart sank when he saw Hannibal beside him, his two fingers bandaged together.

 

“Did you throw Will at a mirror, Dr. Lecter?” asks Beverly glaring at Hannibal.

 

“No, he was having a seizure and broke it. He was swallowing his tongue I reached to dislodge it to save him.”

 

Hannibal’s face was the face of a martyr, one persecuted and misunderstood by the masses, but Will saw something else in his eyes. There was pride and fury lurking in the depths of the cold beast within Hannibal. Will shook from the cold in his bones and fear of his future.  What would Hannibal do to him? He was literally under Hannibal’s control.  It was a slim chance, but maybe Hannibal hadn’t been prepared for Will to run off and had made a mistake or was unable to cover up some evidence.  Will needed to convince Jack.

 

“No! That is not what happened! Search his house, Jack! You’ll see. I am telling you the truth.”

 

Hannibal touched Jack on the shoulder, gaining the man’s attention. He whispered in Jack’s ear like the proverbial devil over his shoulder. Hannibal’s eyes stayed focused on Will the whole time. Jack's eyes shifted to Will his jaw tightened. Will’s shoulder slumped, the feeling of defeat already over taking him.

 

“Will,” Jack said, “I think you are suffering from reinfection. I will search Hannibal’s house but only to prove to you that you are hallucinating.”

 

Will focused on Beverly’s hands rubbing his back.  She sighed.

 

“Jack. Maybe Will should come with me tonight. Give him and Dr. Lecter a break. Time to cool down.”

 

Will felt a flutter of hope in his chest along with the warmth of gratitude toward Beverly.

 

“No, Beverly. I understand your reasoning, but if Will is as sick as Dr. Lecter suspects, he’ll need a medical professional.  Besides, Dr. Lecter is his legal guardian.”

 

Will felt his hopes collapse as the bottom of his world dropped.


 

 

“She’s gone, Will.” Helen looked down at her shoes. “He took her away last night when you were asleep.”

 

“Why didn’t you warn me?” Will whispered. He and Helen were in the living room. Helen pulled him in there as soon as they arrived. Hannibal led Jack and the rest into the kitchen to show everyone the basement.

 

Will paced,  hand anxiously twisting a curl as he did. What was he going to do now?

 

“You need to call Matthew Brown.” Helen stepped in his way.

 

“Why him?”

 

“Why who Will? Who are you talking to in here?” asks Beverly. She stood in the doorway, a concerned look on her face. Before Will could answer Hannibal was there behind her.

 

“Will is talking to a little girl named Helen. A ghost.”

 

“An invisible friend?” scoffs Brian.

 

“She’s real,” protested Will before he thought better of that little outburst. Jack, as well as Jimmy, were now there in the living room with Will and Helen. Will felt his face redden.

 

“Who’s real?” asked Jimmy.

 

“Will’s imaginary friend,” supplied an amused Brian.

 

“She’s not imaginary, you shit head!” growled Will.

 

“Ok, ghost friend is that better?! You have lost your mind, Graham!”

 

“Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t make it invalid. I can’t help you have the imagination and insight of a paper bag!” Will advanced toward Brian.  This whole situation was intolerable on the best of days. He didn’t need Brian adding anything else to impede what little influence he still possessed with Jack.

 

“You have always acted like a child just now your outside matches your inside! They have coddled you to you are a spoiled brat. Now when no one believes you, you throw a tantrum! There is no woman here, Graham! There never was. You are bonkers! You need serious medication and therapy!”

 

“Zeller! That is enough!” Barked Jack.

 

“You all are thinking it!” Brian pointed at each with a sweeping arm motion before he stormed out the door with Jimmy close on his heels.

 

Will stood there shocked. He looked up at Jack. He knew from Jack’s face what he was going to say. They found no woman. There was no evidence. Will was wrong. Will was hallucinating the woman and Helen. Hannibal was his guardian and Will was under his care and control. Before Jack said anything, Will swallowed and walked upstairs. He heard Jack calling his name but it seemed to be so far away. Will felt as though he was floating alongside himself. Once inside his room, Will found himself lying underneath his bed.One of the dog plushies, that looked like a golden retriever puppy, laid forgotten there as well. It's glass gave it a forlorn look. Will reached out pulling the toy to him rubbing his face against the soft faux fur. It was a familiar comfort. Time slipped away as he lay there until soft foot falls came into the room.

 

 

“Will. You need to come out.”

 

Hannibal's voice was close as though he were kneeling down to talk to him. Will bristled at the soft calm voice.

 

“I don’t want to”

 

“William. You need to eat. Come out.”

 

“I want my daddy.”

 

“I am here for you Will.”

 

“No, not you. I want my real daddy.”

 

The first time in a long time, Will really meant that statement. He did want his father. Will’s father fostered independence in his son. Something Will took considerable pride in, but even then some days he really just needed some parental comfort. Today when he felt particularly small and outnumbered, he really wanted to smell Budweiser beer, tobacco, grease, and sweat. Home. His father’s scent.  Although not a smoker himself, Will had a pack of red Marlboros tucked away in a drawer at home. When he felt particularly homesick, he would light one and lay it in an old ashtray to burn down.  He felt silly when he did this, but it was one of those personal secret comforts he kept all to himself. Will wished he could light one up right now. 

Everything was spiraling out of his control as though he were an actual child. If he were an actual child, would someone fight harder for him? No one believed him about Helen or the woman in the house. Will was starting to doubt himself. Maybe he was sick again. Maybe Helen was a hallucination no matter how real she felt. His hallucinations were tangible before.The mind was a powerful force when it turned on itself. Will curled into a tighter ball as his anxiety began to grow with his grasp on his sense of self. Was he an adult? Or was he a child as Zeller implied? The man was annoying and argumentive but he wasn't stupid. The FBI doesn't hire people who were stupid, did they? Maybe, for once, Zeller hit the nail on the head with Will Graham.

"William. We need to talk. I need to see if you have any injuries."

"From our little altercation, Dr. Lecter?"

Hannibal sighed. Will could see him attempting to reign in his disappointment in Will.

"Yes. I apologize for losing my temper. Around you, Will, I often find my patience tested. You provoked unexpected reactions in me. That is a talent you have.But in saying that, Agent Katz said you felt feverish at the bar. I am sure there may be physical injuries. It's best not to let them fester."

"I'll...I'll...be out in a few minutes. I just need some time...okay..."

"As you wish."

Once alone, Will took several deep breaths. He closed his eyes letting the darkness engulf him for just a few minutes.

 

 

Chapter Text

Will sat with his legs crossed on the floor of Hannibal’s extensive library. The days following Will’s escape from the house were oppressive. His and Hannibal’s minor physical wounds were healing but their relationship was tattered. Will’s mental state was precariously balanced as fate added more weight to the side with madness on it. He sighed and rubbed his eyes. Maybe he should fall; maybe he would sleep at least. His dreams were filled with monsters, amusement parks, death, and Hannibal.

 

There were no more late night wailings or wanderings for Will or anyone else in the house.Those came to an abrupt stop.Will suspected Hannibal moved the mysterious woman to another location.Will’s feelings were mixed when he thought about the woman. Who was she and why was Hannibal keeping her locked away? He felt helpless. He couldn’t help her and that made Will angry.

 

Will’s anger was not reserved for Hannibal alone but for Helen’s meddling as well. He did not call Matthew at Helen’s suggestion.Call it pride or stubbornness but there was something there between Helen and Matthew that left his mind on the edge of panic. Thankfully, there were no visits from Helen lately.That could change at any moment at the most opportune time.

 

The next day after everything had happened, Will put all the case files away in their labeled boxes stowing them inside his closet. Depression fell over him like a blanket whenever he even glanced at them.When he placed the last box inside his foot kicked something on the floor that sounded metal and hollow.He found an old metal lock box tucked away and forgotten. Will decided to place the photographs from the amusement park inside it.

 

A few days passed with no sign of Helen, Will’s mind recalled the photos inside the metal box. He wondered if that alone had stopped Helen’s visits. With this question in mind, he spent many days and endless hours in the library reading through Hannibal’s occult book collection as well as online research.It occupied Will’s time with the additional benefit of keeping out of Hannibal’s way but still moving forward in the investigation. His personal mystery about why he was this way.

 

Will’s and Hannibal’s interaction were polite, awkward and limited to meals together. Will busy in the library and Hannibal with patients kept things quiet. Will hated it. He missed Hannibal despite himself. He felt two dimensional like a dime store novel character stuck in a predictable plot. Even investigating serial killers could be predictable at some point. They fell into patterns, after all, that’s how Will caught them in the end. Interaction with Hannibal did add color and twist to the plot of his story.However, Will suspected Hannibal wanted to be the narrator of his story.Even as unreliable as a narrator as Will could be at times, his story was his.Even if he screws the ending up, he’ll write it.

 

Will heard the door open. He slowly looked up to see Hannibal walking towards him.

 

“Is it dinner time?”

 

“No but soon. Have you found what you are looking for?”

 

“Yes and no.”

 

Hannibal sat down and crossed his legs. He was waiting.  Will looked back down at the book he was skimming, flipping the pages. His neck grew warm as his ears turned red from the scrutiny. He knew Hannibal would sit there until Will told him what he was researching.

 

“Do have a question or are you just staring at me to piss me off?”

 

“Care to share what you are researching? I could help.”

 

“Why are you asking? Do you really want to know? You don’t believe me anyway.” Will snapped the book shut. Then he shut all the books that were open closed.

 

“I’ll keep my mind open.”

 

Will rolled his eyes and shrugged his shoulders just to rankle Hannibal’s nerves. Why not tell him?What more harm could it do?

 

“Sure... why not. I am researching to find out what Helen is.”

 

“I thought she was a ghost.”

 

“I thought she was too. Until... I don’t know... something was off about her... anyway... I’ve looked several places but she is something other... not a ghost... maybe a demon... but I am not sure about that…”

 

“Tell me what defines her as other.”

 

“She tells me things to do.Actions to take in certain situations... She gives information. She seems to be attached to photographs... like they are a portal or something. Like, one minute she is in the photograph and one minute she is gone.”

 

Hannibal titled his head looking deep in thought.

 

“What does she suggest you do, Will?”

 

Will gulped. His eyes shifted away from the books toward the window. An escape route from the room and from this conversation. He cleared his throat . In for a pound right?

 

“When Mason cornered me in the barn... she saw a pitchfork hidden underneath the hay. She told me... I could push him back onto the pitch fork... make it look like an accident... no one would care.”

 

Will looked up to see Hannibal’s face calm and placid as always.

 

“Do you think this suggestion was a way for your mind to cope with the danger you were in? It provided you with a way to protect yourself and anyone could see that Mason Verger is… a vile pig.”

 

Will blinked for a few moments.That sounded like a logical argument. One anyone would believe coming from a renowned psychiatrist.Will almost believed it, if he wasn’t experiencing all this shit first hand.  He needed proof.Will’s heart rate increased when he remembered he selfie! He almost forgot!

 

“Wait I have proof! She took a photo of us on my phone before it died!”

 

Will jumped up with the enthusiasm of youth and barrelled upstairs. He grabbed his phone turning it on and unlocked it as he came down the staircase. As he walked into the library, he pulled up his photos. He found a few of his dogs and other miscellaneous nature shots. Finally, he found one from underneath the bed. He felt Hannibal come up behind him. The man seemed to loom over him as Will swiped his finger across the screen. There was a blurry shot of a surprised expression of Will and something or someone beside him. Because of the lighting and the movement of the phone, the figure beside Will could be a shadow, or carpet, or even a toy, Will groaned inwardly. He turned slowly. Hannibal’s expression was one of doubt and concern.

 

“It’s her, I swear.”

 

“I am sure in your mind it could be a little girl.”

 

“But…”

 

Hannibal laid his hand on Will’s shoulder. Will stopped ducking his head to his chest. He shook his head no. He closed his eyes and rubbed the arm holding his phone. The traitorous object that it was. He knew that Helen was real. Wasn’t she? Anything was possible because he was a man in a little kid’s body. For fuck’s sake!

 

“It could be that your mind is attempting to deal with everything that is happening to you by giving you some sort of… friend… a childhood friend... someone who could help and understand you.”

 

Will chewed his chapped lips. Is this all in my head? Fuck... is all this in my head? Am I asleep right now, at home with my dogs and can’t wake up? He reached up to rub his face as though trying to rub sleep away from his eyes.

 

“I don’t know what to believe anymore, Hannibal. What... is happening to me?”

 

Hannibal smiled, pulling Will into an embrace. As an adult this action would never occur, but as a child Will gladly welcomed the touch. He leaned into it. A knock at the front door startled the two apart.

 

“Are you expecting anyone?”

 

“No. Wait here.”

 

Hannibal’s footsteps echoed down the hall. Will picked up the scattered books with his ear turned toward the door. He heard some murmured voices. One sounded like Jack and the other, female. Was it Alana or Beverly? Then another voice that made the hairs on Will stand up. It was a voice he was very familiar with and hadn't heard in a long time. His father’s. Will quietly moved toward the door holding his breath. He touched the door, leaning slightly toward the opening to hear better without revealing himself.

 

“I appreciate your concern Agent Katz and Agent Crawford but the situation is well in hand.”

 

“From what I saw, it wasn’t!” snapped back Beverly.

 

Will let out a soft whoa. He knew Beverly had a temper. This was his first encounter with it and just hearing her voice made him want to hide.

 

“Please Dr.Lecter. We need to discuss this somewhere else…”

 

“Could someone tell me what the fuck is going on? Where is my son? I was told by her…”

 

In Will’s imagination, he could see his father’s exasperated face pointing a finger at Beverly.His father would be would be without his trademark cigarette in one hand and beer in the other. HIs  Dad would then turn pointing his finger at either Jack or Hannibal next like an old rooster weather vane. Hannibal will love that , Will thought. It almost made him giggle as he imagined Hannibal’s face.

 

“...that my son was in some kind of trouble.That he needed my help. Which is hard to believe, cause that boy ain’t needed nor wanted my help since he started school.”

 

Will rolled his eyes, crossing his arms, his mouth set in a determined line. That motherfucker and his excuses never changed. Never needed or wanted his help my ass! Will had a good mind to go out there and kick his old man’s ass. He took a deep breath, reminding himself that Lucian Graham was his father. He raised him and did the best he could.

 

“Now one of you tell me what the hell is going on.”

 

Will heard the flick of the lighter. Oh, Dad. No ... Will closed his eyes in mortification as he smelled smoke.

 

“Excuse me, Mr Graham, but I do not allow smoking in my house.”

 

“Well, I guess you better hurry up and bring Will out here or show me where I can smoke. I’ve been dying for one of these and I ain’t waitin’ any longer, got it Doc?”

 

“Right this way.”

 

Will peered around the doorframe to see his father’s back leave the foyer. He jumped when he found Beverley face to face with him. She grinned.

 

“Fuck! Don’t do that! You scared the shit out of me!” Will hissed.

 

“Hey, you do have an accent.”

 

“Yeah, well it tends to make an entrance in times of stress or when I am around my dad. Who, by the way, never comes to see me ever… what is he doing here?”

 

Beverly turned her head before she motioned Will into the study. She sat down on the sofa and Will sat beside her. She whispered as she watched the door.

 

“I was worried after you came to the bar the other night. I don’t know what is going on here but I think you need someone else to be your guardian. Someone without ties to the FBI.”

 

“I appreciate the concern, Beverly. I’m touched, but my Dad is like in his late 60’s and you see his health. He couldn’t watch out for me. I wouldn’t have him take me to crime scenes.”

 

“You shouldn’t be at crimes scenes anyway, Will.”

 

“I know I look like a child but I am not one.”

 

“But if you stay like this? What if you have to grow up again? They might make you go back to school.”

 

“I could be homeschooled or something but if that were true my Dad couldn’t take care of me and support me. He barely was able to on the first go around. Our relationship is strained on the best of days.”

 

“I am only trying to help.”

 

“I know you are Beverly. I know. I am grateful. How am I going to explain this?” Will waved his hand at himself.

 

Before she could answer she looked up and Will followed her lead.

 

His father stood in the door jamb of the study looking much the same as he did five years ago. He and Will had a falling out over something trivial that Will could not even remember. They spoke less and less over the past few years and had seen each other a mere once or twice in that time. It felt like a lifetime. Lucian walked over to the couch.

 

He dropped to his knee and removed his familiar Budweiser ballcap from his head. Salt and pepper curls flattened against dark tanned skinned with deep weathered lines. Deep brown eyes softened by long dark lashes and laugh lines with a lopsided grin greeted Will. Two large calloused hands gently laid on Will’s shoulders. A familiar ache gripped Will’s chest the smell of grease, tobacco, long drives, and greasy food wafted off his father. Lucian smelt like childhood and homecoming. Will felt a tear fall from his eye, but before he could wipe it, a thumb brushed it away.

 

“Now what’s this? Don’t be sad just yet. You just met me. People cry after they get to know me first.”

 

Will laughed as he was pulled into a quick hug. His father picked him up as he turned to look at Hannibal, leaving Will to study Lucian’s profile.

 

“I hate to be impolite, but where the hell is that no account son of mine?”

 

Will opened his mouth, but Lucian put a hand up to silence him.

 

“No, before you say anything, I know he is my grandson. He is the spitting image of Will when he was his age. I mean... it’s like looking at a picture! What I can’t understand is why he kept you a secret.” Lucian looked at Will with a steely gaze. “I may be poor and not as educated as your daddy but I raised him. He’s got nothin’ to be ashamed of.”

 

“Are you his momma? Is that why you called? Has Will took off because I raised him better than that.”

It took a moment for Beverly to make the connection that Lucian was speaking to her. Her mouth opened in surprised as she looked at Jack and then Hannibal.

 

“No. No. I am friend of Will’s. I am not anyone’s mother.”

 

Lucian nodded his head before turning his stare on Lecter and Crawford. Crawford coughed as though clearing his throat. He shuffled his feet. Finally, Hannibal stepped forward.

 

“May we have a word in private?”

 

“No.”

 

“No?”

 

“I am staying right here. So just say it.”

 

“How very alike you and your son are, Mr Graham. Will went on assignment out of town. I was asked to look after William for several days..We....”

 

“How old are you boy?” interrupted as Lucian directed his question to the boy in his arms.

 

Will looked over at Hannibal before whispering, “Five.”

 

“Okay, go on.”

 

Hannibal cocked an eyebrow before continuing. “May I? Thank you. We have not heard from Will in several days.. I assumed the FBI contacted you to see if Will may have contacted you.”

 

“Un huh…” Lucian’s eyes narrowed looking at Hannibal. He looked hardly convinced. He turned back to Will. “What’s your name boy?”

 

“William.”

 

“Where is your momma?”

 

Will shrugged looking around the room.His mind buzzed with white noise.Will couldn’t think of what to say.A backstory was something he never planned on needing in a pinch.But he never planned on being five years old again either.

 

“William’s mother passed away shortly after he was born,”  Hannibal smoothly added.

 

“Really now? That’s awfully convenient.” Lucian side eyed Hannibal as he pats Will’s leg.

 

Jack and Hannibal looked at each other.

 

Lucian looked at Will with a lopsided smile. “Can you get your Grandaddy something to drink?”

 

“Sure. What do you want?”

 

“Something cold. Why don’t you and that pretty lady go get it.”

 

He placed Will down carefully and Beverly took his hand to leave the room.  Beverly headed towards the kitchen as Will lurked near the door to eavesdrop. He heard Lucian sigh.

 

“Okay. I don’t know what the hell is going on here but somethin’ stinks in Denmark..”

 

“Mr Graham…”

 

“Hey, Agent, I ain’t done speakin’ yet.”

 

“Doc, I want to know are you and my boy... a couple?”

 

“Excuse me?”

 

Will felt like someone punched him in the stomach. Did his father just ask his not psychiatrist if they were a couple? Really, dad?!

 

“I said are you fuckin?! Did Will and you have some woman have a baby for ya’ll? Because this story of that boy’s mother dying is a load of shit. Me and Will stopped speaking regularly a little more than five years ago. My boy ain’t no smooth operator. Ain’t no way, he got some girl knocked up, had a baby, and she died within that time period.”

 

Deafening silence followed that statement. Well thanks for jumping to my defense guys, Will thought.

 

“I really don’t care if he’s queer or whatever. I just don’t like being lied to, like you think I am an idiot. Do I need to take William with me since I am technically next of kin? I guess gay couples if one is the parent the other has to adopt, right? Did you adopt William? You seem too smart not to cover all the bases. Or is this relationship fairly new?”

 

Beverly came back down the hall with a glass of water, handing it to Will. He grabbed it to walk in quickly.

 

“Here you go, Granddaddy.” He looked up with a big smile. Will hoped he looked sweet enough to stop the conversation in its tracks so he and Hannibal could formulated a plan. Will was not returning to live with his father.








Chapter Text

Hannibal cleared his throat. “Well, dinner is about to be served.  Would you all care to join us?”

 

He looked at each person in expectation. Jack smiled but waved a hand in dismissal of the invitation.

 

“I wish I could stay.  I would love some of your cooking, but I need to get home to Bella.”

 

“Ah, I see. How is Bella these days?” Hannibal replied with a look of concern.

 

“She has her good days and bad.” Jack’s smile fell away from his face as his eyes focused on thoughts of his wife.

 

“Agent Katz, Mr. Graham?”

 

Beverly’s expression was of a woman torn between staying and fleeing the scene.  For once someone shared in full Will’s discomfort. What did she think would happen? Will thought as Beverly’s anxiety racked his nerves over the proverbial coals, so to speak. Lucian looked at Beverly and shook his head. He gently placed the empty glass of water on the table beside the coaster. Hannibal’s eyebrow twitched at the sight. Lucian gently gripped Beverly’s arm to gain her attention.

 

“Hey, I’m ridin’ with you. If you got plans or places to be, that’s fine.  I can stay here or you can drop me at my motel. Either way is fine with me.  I am sure, me and the boys here will be meeting back up later, won’t we?”

 

Lucian turned with a toothy smile toward Hannibal.  That moment Will glimpsed his dad’s hidden dark side. His father’s eyes were cold and that smile spoke of assured predatory violence. Something clenched in Will’s gut. How did he not see it before? His father hid it behind a friendly smile, a slow drawl and sarcastic banter. Lucian cultivated a mask that fit as snug as Hannibal’s person suit. All this time Will thought his father and he were so different.  Will vigilantly protected this man from the terror he met with so often, but Lucian had his own blade for protection. Will swallowed thickly before his mind leapt anywhere else. This line of intuitive thought and imagination had no bases, yet there it was, taunting him to look into another abyss. Dwelling on this would lead to nothing good. Stop it! He chastised himself. Will slowly blinked his eyes, forcibly returning to the present moment.

 

“Are you alright, William? You look very pale?”


Will startled to find Hannibal crouched down where he was eye level with Will.

 

“I don’t feel so well. I think I need to sit down for a moment.”

 

Will’s eyes darted back and forth between Hannibal and Lucian.  He hoped it was enough of a signal for Hannibal to rid them of Will’s father’s company for now.  Will needed to get his head together.  Everything happened so quickly, he felt like he was riding on a wild horse through a burning barn.  Hannibal gave a small nod in understanding.  At least, that is what Will saw or hoped he saw anyway.  Hannibal stood up, brushing invisible lint and dirt from his pants.

 

“What’s wrong with him?” Lucian’s voice floated through the haze of Will’s thoughts.

 

“William was ill early this week. I am afraid he may be not be as fully recovered as we thought.”

 

Will felt Hannibal’s hands on his shoulder guide him to sit on the couch.

 

“Well, in that case, why don’t I drop you at your motel, Mr Graham?” Beverly asked Lucian.

 

If Will wasn’t mistaken, she sounded somewhat relieved.  The burden of guilt of leaving Lucian in the dark to who Will really was or forcing Will to try and explain this mess had been lifted from her shoulders, for a night. It weighed heavily on Beverly what extra stress her “help” had put Will through.

 

“Yeah, that will be fine.”

 

Lucian walked over and patted Will’s leg. “I’ll call and check on you later, squirt.” Will nodded.

 

“We’ll make arrangements later to discuss everything, Mr Graham. It was nice to meet you.”

 

“Yeah, we’ll do that.  It was interesting to meet you, Dr Lecter.”

 

He and Beverly departed quietly out the front with Hannibal following behind to see them out. As soon as they exited the room, Will slumped to his side on the couch. He groaned with a “whhhhyyy” escaping audibly out under his breath.

 

“Things are never dull with you, William.”

 

Hannibal sat at the other end of the couch from Will.

 

“Yes... never a dull moment with me... a thrill a moment.” Will mumbled into the couch cushion.  He buried his face into it with the desire to block out the rest of the day.

 

“Your father is… not what I expected.”

 

Will laughed. “He’s a charmer, ain’t he?”

 

“I see were some of your endearing traits come from.”

 

“No reason to get nasty now.”

 

“It wasn’t meant as an insult.  What happened a few minutes ago?”

 

Will hesitated a moment.

 

“I felt sick.”

 

“You look like you had a revelation of some sort.”

 

Will sat back, one side of his face red and his wild curls smashed flat from the cushion. He blew some air, along with anxiety, out of his mouth as he rubbed his forehead and sighed.

 

“I think I am confused.”

 

Hannibal tilted his head waiting for Will. He didn’t  feel like sharing that revelation about his father with Hannibal.  He could be wrong.  Will must be wrong about what he saw. His father was protective like any parent or grandparent would be. It just felt like more, though. Hannibal waited a few moments when Will didn’t continued he rose from the couch instead.

 

“Shall we have dinner?”

 

Will groaned, pushing himself off the couch.  They parted in the hallway with Hannibal continuing into the kitchen and Will in the dining room.  Will took his place and waited for Hannibal to bring out their meal. It felt so normal, almost common. They had their assigned chores and seats. Will shook off the strange feeling of routine to ponder over a new problem... what to do with Dad? It sounded like a commercial for home health care.

 

“Problem?” Hannibal asked placing a plate before Will.  He took his seat as Will unfurled his napkin.

 

“I was thinking about Dad and this…”

 

“Yes…?” Hannibal coaxed before taking his first bite.

 

Will shrugged then placed his cutlery down.  His tendency to talk with his hands, if an object was in the hand and sharp, well, listener beware. After an incident involving a sharp fork and Hannibal’s eye, a new rule was all utensils down when Will talked.

 

Will asked, at the time of the conversation took place, if asking a guest to do this was in an official Emily Post handbook for being a polite host book. Hannibal was not amused by the question, even though Will insisted the question was seriously asked.  Some people were so sensitive about their heirlooms and eyes apparently, WIll groused at the time.  It’s a wonder Will wasn’t banned from the dining room table after that comment.

 

“Like what do I call you? Are you and my daddy,”Will” in a relationship?”

 

Hannibal looks up to find a smirking Will before he takes a sip of his drink.

 

“That question needs to be answered by you, Will. You will have to live with the aftermath when and if you change back. What will you tell your father when the young William disappears? If you never change back, the older version of you could have died easily.”

 

“I wish people would stop saying that!”

 

WIll huffed placing the glass he was holding down a little too hard onto the table’s surface.

 

“Saying what?”

 

“That I’m not going to change back.”

 

“It’s a possibility.”

 

Will gave Hannibal a withering look.  He was not going to lose his temper.  Controlling his own emotions and then being bombarded with other people’s emotions was becoming a challenge.  All the lessons and experiences that taught Will how to build his bone forts were fading. He felt like adult Will was fading away or did not exist anymore. His lifetimes of experiences—did he lose those memories or did they simply never exist?

 

The longer Will was in this form, did it mean he was going to lose everything? His knowledge? His experiences? His memories? Was he erasing his current adult self with his regression into this present child state? It made his head hurt. Will had fallen down a rabbit hole and he might never find his way out. It was enough to set him in a tailspin of panic.  He heard something.  He looked up, Hannibal was speaking to him. Hannibal went from muffled to clear in a matter of seconds—it was jarring.

 

“Will, can you hear me?”

 

“Yes... Yes, I can now.”

 

Hannibal felt Will’s head. “You feel feverish again. Why don’t you lie down and rest.”

 

“That’s a good idea.”

 

Will promptly rose from his seat and walked out of the dining room.  He headed upstairs into his room and fell face first onto his bed. He listened to the sounds of Hannibal cleaning the kitchen and, before he knew better, he was lulled to sleep.

 

The next morning Will felt someone shaking him awake. His eyes reluctantly opened as his face twisted into a snarl.

 

“Alright, alright. I’m up.  I’m up! Quit it!”

 

He heard a masculine voice laced with humor and a southern drawl reply, “Well now, the apple doesn't fall from the tree at all on that. Not a morning person and you slept in your clothes as well.”

 

Will turned over onto his back. His eyes squinted as the overhead light burned his retinas as he looked up at a cheerful Lucian Graham. His daddy was always a morning person.  Something he and Hannibal had in common. Fuck em both! Instead of that, Will decided to be civil.

 

“Hey, Granddaddy. Where’s Dr. Lecter?”

 

“He had some patients this morning, so I said I’d looked after ya. Do you always call your... what is he? Your father, stepfather, papa…? By his title... I mean he's like... stiff, but shit... that’s being a grade a asshole if you ask me... but nobody does, especially your daddy apparently…”

 

“Granddaddy! That’s a bad word! Don’t talk about him like that, it’s not nice! ”

 

“Sorry... sorry... you are right... I shouldn’t have said that... But I bet your Daddy cusses, right? That's what I thought. I’ll watch my language. I just don’t understand what is going on, William.”

 

Lucian sits in the edge of the bed looking at Will. Will sits up crossing his legs watching them as he bounces them up and down a little. He knows he owes his father some kind kind of explination. So here goes nothing.

 

“It’s... complicated.  I don’t think he and Daddy have defined their relationship.”

 

Lucian cocks his eyebrow and quirks his lips into a smile. He snorts looking around before he sarcastically mumbles,  “Lordy… have not defined their relationship. ” He looks back at Will.

 

“Boy, I have come in the nick of time I think.”

 

Will looked up at Lucian.

 

“Nick of time from what?”

 

He was groggy from his sleep. He had slept, but he still felt sluggish. Will knew he was restless with nightmares but he didn’t recall waking up with them.  It’s a strange sensation his mind is trying to line up with the way his body feels.  Will felt a confused frown on his face when he glanced at his Dad.

 

“To save you from becoming a stuffy middle-aged man before your time, son. No kid talks like that, boy. Go get dressed! You and me we are going to McDonald's for breakfast and then the park with a playground. You are to officially act like a kid today.”

 

Will was flabbergasted. All he saw in his head was Hannibal with a very disapproving look on his face. Will shook his head. Why does that image bother him?

 

“I don’t think…”

 

“Now scoot. Don’t worry about Lecter. I’ll take care of him..”

 

Will slid off the bed and headed into the bathroom. “That’s what I’m afraid of” he said under his breath as he closed the door.

 

They took an Uber ride to McDonald's (it took a little convincing for Lucian to even use the app) and ate breakfast which Will enjoyed.  He knew it was made with questionable ingredients and was definitely not as nutritious as Hannibal's but he enjoyed his rubber pancakes and greasy hashbrowns. Will was delighted and surprised when his father bought him a cup of coffee when he asked. Lucian answered Will’s surprised unasked question when he handed the water down but missed caffeinated beverage, of why?

 

“Don’t look so surprised, honey. That’s what grandparents are for. We are here for spoiling grandkids.  We buy the stuff kids really wants and parents say no to; we take you places when parents can’t or won’t; we say yes more then we say no; we give you all that attention parents can’t. And the best it... we get to undo all the work and disciple your parents have done in a mere few hours and then hand you back.”

 

Will laughed, watching as Lucian smiled wide and then laughed with a twinkle in his eye.  Once Will settled down he continued to eat when he felt a little ache in his chest. His Dad may not have been a very attentive parent but he would have made a fun grandparent. Will wished he could have given that to him.  Will came out of his head when he heard his Dad clear his throat.

 

“Have Dr Lecter’s parents not been to visit?”

 

Will shook his head. He took a huge gulp of his coffee. His skin physically crawled with nervous energy from the caffeine, maybe the third cup was not the best idea.

 

“Um... nope.  Don’t know much about ‘em.”

 

“That right? Seems strange.  Hmmm... Well, sport. You ready for the park?”

 

“Sure. Okay.”

 

Will jumped out of his seat and headed for the door before he was caught by the collar by his Dad. Who reminded him that they need to discard their trash and call for a ride. Will smiled sheepishly, grabbing the trash up from the table.   Definitely no more than two cups of coffee in the future.

 

Will sat on the swing as the tips of his tennis shoes barely scratch the dirt as he swung back and forth on the swing set. He was lethargic after the caffeine rush crashed after an hour or so at the park.  It did feel good to run.  He hadn’t exercised since his sudden change, so an excuse to run was good.  Exhaustion brought him to sit idly for a few minutes.  Will heard the squeak and groan of the chain of the swing beside him.

 

“Hey, Will.  Wanna a push?”

 

Will looked up to see Matthew Brown sitting beside him. Before his internal alarms sounded about his wariness about the boy, he smiled.

 

“Hey, Matty. What'cha doing here?”

 

“My Aunt said I needed to get out.  You know. Needed to get away from the video games and TV.  Learn to enjoy nature and shit like that. So here I am. Who brought you?”

 

Matthew looked around.

 

“Oh... my Grandfather did.”

 

“Really, now?”

 

A smile spread across Matthew’s face.  As he turned to look at Will.

 

“Where is he?”

 

Will pointed to Lucian sitting on a bench talking with none other than Mrs. Komeda, who looked as out place as he did. Lucian wore his very worn denim jeans and jacket with his Budweiser ball cap.  He was wearing a blue flannel shirt and cowboy boots. Mrs. Komeda wore a red skirt with a cheetah print wrap coat and red gloves.They looked like opposite ends of the economic spectrum. Lucian was flirting shamelessly with the woman who looked as though she was enjoying the attention. Will groaned. Could the man for once not do that? Every fucking where? Every fucking where even with his “grandson” along the man was trying to find a way to get laid? It’s gotta be an addiction! It didn’t matter age, color, height, weight, married, nothing... if Lucian thought they were female... they were fair game... How many times did they have to move because of angry spouses, boyfriends? Too fucking many!

 

Will felt his lip curl and his eyes harden.  He felt a hand on his shoulder and he pulled away from it all but growling.

 

“Hey! What’s got you so mad?”

 

“He does! Look at him! Everywhere we go he... acts like that!”

 

Will jabbed his index finger in Lucian’s direction. Matthew’s lips twisted into an bemused grin.

 

“So?”

 

“So... it’s embarrassing!”

 

Matthew shrugs. “So, she does that to... but,” Matthew wets his lips and grinned, “we can use that to our advantage.”

 

Will’s blue eyes cut toward Matthew.

 

“Okay, how?”

 

“Come on.”

 

Matthew jumps out of the seat heading where the couple sat with Will trailing behind.  They stopped in front of the adults. Finally, Mrs. Komeda reluctantly glanced at Matthew annoyed at the interruption. Her eyes flit to Will before softening with recognition.

 

“Oh, I see you found Will! How are you, dear?”

 

“Thank you, I’m fine.  I see you met my Granddaddy.”

 

She smiles looking at Lucian and then back to Will. “I see where Will gets all his good looks from.” She gently tugged on Lucian’s sleeve that rested on the benched between them. He smiled wider leaning into her space.

 

“Don’t say that too loud, Hannibal won’t let me come back.”

 

“Oh, you!”

 

They both laughed for a moment before Matthew huffed out a breath. It brought their attention back to the boys.

 

“Me and Will are hungry.  Can they come for lunch and then we do something together?”

 

Mrs. Komeda lit up as she turned toward Lucian. Will rolled his eyes before he looked at Matthew, who was wearing a shit eating grin. There was no way those two would turn down that offer to spend more time to get to know each other for the sake of the boys.  After a few moments of polite conversation around the subject, they agreed to lunch and then perhaps, something else afterward.

 

Will kicked rocks out his way following the others and Mrs Komeda to her car. Something tingled in the back of his mind. Helen told him to call Matthew Brown, didn’t she?  Before Will could even begin to attempt to uncover Helen’s motives for that suggestion, Matthew was shoving Will into the backseat of Mrs Komeda car.

 

They buckled in as the woman began to pull out of the parking lot. Matthew whispered something to the effect everyone may want to hold onto their asses before he was silenced with a warning look.  Unfortunately, Matthew’s words were an omen as the car sped around a corner.  Lucian looked a little pale coming out of the turn.  Will would have laughed but he felt car sick. Will didn’t get car sick as a rule. Matthew giggled and was punched for his lack of sensitivity by Will.  He closed his eyes with the hopes he would ignorant to when it came.

 

“Here.  Take this,”

 

Will felt a something shoved into his hand.  His other hand was grabbing the door handle like a lifeline as they merged into traffic.  Curiosity finally won over the desire not to see his immediate death, Will opened one eye.  In his hand was an older photograph like from the amusement park he took.  This one he didn’t recognize. A woman stood in a library holding a book.  She wore a huge rabbit mask.  It was unsettling by itself, but even more so was Helen waving at Will.

 

His eyes widen. Will jumped when he felt Matthew’s breath at his ear. “She’s missed you Will.”



Chapter Text

Time slowed to where the physical paused and sound shifted as Will’s eyes focused on Helen.  He blinked slowly as a single thought was in the forefront of his mind- evil was stalking Will Graham.  Mesmerised by Helen’s hand as it reaches up from the photograph and gripped his wrists with a strength no child or adult possessed pulled him into the scene.  Will’s shocked expression was reflected by Matthew as he grabbed Will’s shoulder, anchoring him to the car.  Will winced and pulled his arm back as Helen continued to tug Will in toward Helen.  Frustration contorted her face as Matthew hissed for her to let Will go.  Will knew his arm was going to be dislocated if this continued. He glanced toward the front seat.  Lucian’s attention was focused on the road ahead.

 

Will whimpered when he was thrown off balance as the car suddenly turned sharply around a corner.  It dislodged Helen’s grip. Lucian paled and grabbed the handle above his seat with a “Christ woman! This ain’t Nascar!” Will took the opportunity to roll down the window and to throw the photograph out.  Will rubbed his arm.  His attention was drawn to Matthew who looked every bit the scared boy that he truly was underneath the smug teenager he projected to the world.

 

Will jolted from his thoughts when the car came to a sudden stop at a gate. Mrs. Komeda rolled down her window and spoke with the man inside the office.  He smiled and opened the gate to let the car through. She glanced at Lucian.

 

“I thought we would have lunch at my house.  I have a very good cook, and I know how picky Hannibal is about his diet and Will’s I assume as well.”

 

Lucian grunted in response. Will smiled in spite of himself. It was his Dad’s standard reply when he couldn’t bring himself to be polite.  He imagined Lucian had a running commentary in his head with several expletives about what he thought of  Hannibal’s pretentious diet.

 

They pulled into a garage and Matty darted out of the car before the motor was even turned off.  He stopped to pull Will with him. Mrs. Komeda scolded him for not waiting and to “let that poor child undo his seat belt before you hurt him, Matthew!” though Will managed to unbuckle himself without his arm being pulled out of his socket.

 

“Sorry, Will. Hurry up! We can go to my room!”

 

“You mean that disaster area you call a room,” scoffed Mrs. Komeda.

 

Matthew rolled his eyes, grabbing Will once again to run toward his room.  Will heard a voice yelling not to run but it did not affect their actions.  Matthew banged the door open as he kicked his way into the room. Mrs. Komeda was not exaggerating. There were piles of clothes on the floor and toys strewn everywhere. Matthew was kicking some into a pile for a path to his computer area.

 

“You could hide a body in here.” Will mumbled.

 

“Yea, but the smell would give it away.”

 

“Are you sure about that?” Will scrunched his nose as Matthew laughed.

 

“It ain’t that bad.  Come on.”

 

Will reluctantly picked his way to the bed where Matthew was sitting.  The teenager held a box.  Will placed his hand over the lid before Matthew could open it.

 

“Don’t.”

 

Matthew looked up at Will, his mouth set in a determined line.

 

“I..I..I..am not scared...I was just caught off guard in the car.”

 

“She’s dangerous, Matty!”

 

“I can protect you, Will.”

 

“Don’t, Matty!”

 

“Fine!”

 

Matty shoved the box off the bed into the floor.  Will sat there.  He never knew what to say in the best of times.  What do you say when a kid you know is messing around with some kind of demon ghost girl thing?  Hell if Will knew. Matthew ignored Will after that,  which in truth was fine with Will. He got up from the bed and wandered around the room. Nothing interesting, just typical teenage boy things. On Matthew’s desk were several articles on the amusement park murders, as well as some printouts of older articles.  They were a history of the park and its dark past. Then beside it was a thick book on folklore. A strange combination.  Will looked over his shoulder at Matthew who was absorbed into a video game at the moment. Will opened the book and turned the pages idly until he came to a chapter that was bookmarked with the crime scene photo Matty took from Will.

 

The section discussed fae that were exiled from their own kind.  Sometimes they were removed from their physical bodies roaming the earth in incorporeal form.  People would mistake them for spirits of the dead or demons.  If the fae were powerful enough they could reanimate the dead or possess a human for small amounts of time, but this was a very draining process.  These exiled faes often slipped between worlds, lost and angry.  Some of them were slaves for other fae to make mischief in the human realm. Another section marked was about a creature known as a wendigo who once was human but consumed human flesh until it became this monster. Will studied the drawing of the creature.  Its body was elongated with claws and emaciated body.  Antlers protruded from the head and white eyes glowed from the inky skin.

 

“Creepy, ain’t it?!”

 

Will literally jumped dropping the book.  He turned, punching Matthew but doing little damaged.

 

“Motherfucker! Don’t do that to me!”

 

“My what a dirty mouth you have, William!”

 

Matthew continued to laugh as Will pushed him around the room growling at him about scaring someone to death.  Matthew grabbed Will’s arms and pulled him around as they fell over on the floor grappling for dominance. Will maybe small but he was wiley and stronger than he looked.  Will felt a huge hand pull him away from Matthew with a “Come on now. Time to eat.” Will wiped his face with the back of his hand, breathing hard. He watched as Matthew laughed and winked at him before the boy headed off to the bathroom. Lucian patted Will’s shoulder before pushing into the same direction.


 

 

For all her talk about Hannibal’s diet, Mrs. Komeda liked her food like her men apparently, meaty and down-home.  Which was fine by both Will and his father, as they both ate fried chicken, mashed potatoes, rolls, green beans, slaw, and cake for dessert.  It was one of the best meals Will had had in a long time, though he had no plans of telling Hannibal.  The psychiatrist's meals were wonderful but they didn’t comfort the soul as these foods did.

 

If Will were his adult self, he would feel the need to unbutton his pants and sleep with his pack for a few hours.  He yawned lazily, looking for his Dad instead.  He heard female giggling from one of the rooms. As much wine and other beverages were consumed before and during lunch, Will wondered how his Dad and their hostess were standing at all.

 

Will frowned, it was unlike Lucian to consume that much alcohol before sundown during the week.  He stood up to go and search when he was intercepted by Matthew.

 

“Come on. I wanna show you something cool.”

 

Will felt skeptical and it must have shown on his face.

 

“Don’t worry about them.”

 

He pulled on Will’s sleeve and headed toward another part of the house.


 



Matthew picked a lock to a door in the basement as Will acted as a lookout. As Will held the flashlight up for the other boy, he felt the hair stand up on the back of his neck. Will glanced back over his shoulder, but nothing was there. It took only a few minutes before a click was heard and the door swung open silently to a long narrow passageway. Will looked over Matthew’s shoulder peering into the dark abyss.

 

“I oiled the hinges on the door so I can sneak out easier.”

 

“What is it? Where does it go?”

 

“It’s some kind of underground passageway system. I think it was used by pirates, then runaway slaves and then...the mob during the prohibition era. This passage is part of several different ones. You can get around most of the city.”

 

“Really?”

 

“Well if you know where you are going and if it’s part of the old part. The newer developments aren't linked to the tunnels or at least none I found.

 

Will felt a chill run down his spine following sweat from nerves and excitement. If anyone knew of these passageways... anyone could move undetected throughout the city. Very handy for criminals...murders...the Ripper. Will looked at Matthew.

 

“How did you find this, Matthew?”

 

“My Aunt believe it or not. She’s always talking about the history of this house. She showed me this door. We walked ways into it, but then we turned back. She’s scared I’ll get scared and that it’s unsafe.” Matthew huffed and rolled his eyes in bravado. “I’m not scared or worried about nothing in these tunnels.”

 

“You aren’t?” Will looked at Matthew and then down the tunnel. He looked skeptical enough to coax Matthew into revealing more about his adventures in the tunnels.

 

“Nope. I’ve been in them lots of times. I’m making a map so I can get around easier.”

 

“Wow! Where have you been?”

 

“Oh, everywhere.”

 

“The amusement park?”

 

“Oh yeah...loads of time.”

 

“Take me there?”

 

Matthew turned to Will scratching his chin and looking thoughtful at the younger boy. “I don’t know. You might get lost or afraid or something.”

 

“Maybe you’re afraid Helen will get mad at you. She showed you didn’t she? The way to the amusement park.” Will side eyed Matthew waiting for a reaction. The jab caused the boy’s ears to redden. Will could not decide if it was from anger or embarrassment. “Do you need her to show you the way, again? I am sure she'd show me.”

 

“I can show you but not today.”

 

“When then?” Will crossed his arms over his chest.

 

“This weekend. We’ll have a sleepover. We’ll need several hours when nobody will look for us. It will take a few hours to get there.” Matthew paused closing the door quickly. “I think I hear someone, come on quick!”

 

The boys swiftly walked up the stairs pausing ever so often to listen for someone who could wander down their way but no one did. They entered the hallway near the kitchen when they heard several adult voices raised. It sounded like an argument.

 

Near the front door stood a ridged Hannibal with a tense-looking Lucian and a swaying Mrs. Komeda. This can’t be good, thought Will as they quietly approached.

 

“William needs to come with me now, Lucian. You are in no state to be looking after him.” Hannibal’s mouth set in a firm line and his voice very calm.

 

“What state would that be, Doc? I am just fine. I can handle my drinking just fine. I watched after Will all these years after a few and he survived just fine.”

 

Will shook his head looking down at the floor . Yes, look how Will survived. Look how he turned out, he thought to himself. I am just peachy .

 

“I think you give yourself too much credit in how well Will turned out, Lucian. I can assure you, lack of restraint in your libations was more harmful to your son then you know or can fathom.”

 

“Oh, Shit!” whispered Will and Matthew in unison. Will’s eyes widened as Lucian’s eyes widened then narrowed, his knuckles cracking as they folded into a fist. He had to stop this before things became physical. Will rushed forward. He needed to get Hannibal’s focus’s away from Lucian. Will wrapped his arms around Hannibal’s waist and then looked up at him.

 

“Papa! Hey, what are you doing here?”

 

Hannibal startled then hesitantly put his arms around Will.

 

“When I returned home, I didn’t find you there. I was concerned. I came to look for you.”

 

“We’ve had fun. We went to the park and met Matthew. We had lunch and me and Matty were playing...” Will looked behind him to see Matthew sheepishly smiling as he walked into the throng of adults.

 

“Yeah, it’s been fine.”

 

Hannibal stroked Will’s cheek but frowned. “How did you get that bruise, William?”

 

Before Will could answer Lucian interrupted. “Oh, they had a little tussle. You know boys. Always wrestling.”

 

“Indeed.” murmured Hannibal.

 

“Oh, it wasn’t Matty’s fault. He was defending himself.”.

 

“I let you win. I hardly even tried.” Matthew’s brow furrowed as his lips pursed in teenage indignation.

 

“That’s not true!”

 

“Alright...that’s enough male bickering.” Mrs. Komeda broke in, she murmured something about male pride as she draped her arm around Matthew’s shoulder.

 

“I am sorry we upset you, Hannibal. That was not my intention. The boys just wanted to play together and we lost track of time. It was rude of me not to call. Will you forgive us?”

 

She smiled her most charming of smiles as Hannibal smiled, taking her hand and brushing it with his lips. “I could never stay angry with you.”

 

Lucian rolled his eyes and Will giggled, sure his father was going to have a stroke at any moment. Hannibal looked over his shoulder at Lucian.

 

“I blame someone else for not informing me of this little adventure but no harm is done. Gentlemen, I think we should head home.”

 

Hannibal turned to Will and his father as they grabbed their coats. They put them on to head out into the evening air and home.