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Exsanguination

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It starts off small. An innocuous set of keys laying on a sideboard underneath files he hasn’t quite gotten to refiling. They’re on a simple key ring, only 2 keys with no keychain to denote where they came from or what they unlock. Perplexed, Hannibal simply gathers them and puts them in a kitchen drawer that seems to be the catch-all for things that have no place.

A few days later, while putting a freshly tailored suit away in his closet, he finds a navy blue suit that isn’t his. It’s still wrapped in the plastic from a dry cleaners that lists its address as in Virginia. It’s smaller than his own and is a cheap poly blend that he would never even think about buying, much less wear. But looped around the neck, is a silk tie that he most certainly would have picked. It’s deep burgundy with navy paisleys, rich enough to enhance the cheap suit into something vaguely appropriate. It’s the blue-grey pocket square folded and tucked neatly in the breast pocket that makes him pause. It’s one of his; the monogram on the corner neat and most assuredly his. Holding it, he moves to the set of drawers further in his closet that hold his various accessories. In one drawer, he pulls out the same exact pocket square he bought on a whim, the only one that shade of blue. He bought it simply because it reminded him of the exact shade of Will Graham’s eyes. Unsettled, he tucks the duplicate back in the pocket of the navy suit and pushes it into the furthest corner of his closet. Out of sight, out of mind.

Hannibal is unsure whether or not he appears as shaken as he feels. He pushes the feelings of self-doubt and vague self-diagnosis down in the lower levels of his mind where he keeps childhood memories tightly locked. His visits to Will at the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane aren’t as fulfilling as they used to be; his own mind feels in a fog he can’t quite shake. Instead, he acts as he needs too, enough to perhaps fool the world, but Will Graham is no simple man. His eyes burn with knowing. Will recognizes what a fragmented mind looks like and sees it rooted in Hannibal.

What comes next causes him to cancel his appointments for the day.

When he arrives home, long after his work hours finished, with fresh meat packed in a cooler, Hannibal grabs his mail. Bringing it in from his mail box, he throws it on his dining table momentarily as he takes the cooler to store his trophies. He pauses as he catches the faint whiff of a much beloved perfume. Placing the cooler down, as he sorts through psychology journals and social invitations, he finds a letter. What sets it apart from most of the letters he receives is the fine, linen blend of the paper. It is no simple card stock printed with a cursive font. It has weight, substance, and fine penmanship that cause Hannibal’s hands to shake. Turning it over, an embossed seal with the Lecter family crest makes his eyes tear.

Taking a moment to gather himself, he opens the envelope to find a thick sheaf of papers and a stronger scent of his mother’s perfume. It’s a letter, dated 2 days ago from his mother, discussing mundane things. How her rose garden is doing, how the improvements on the castle are going, how much his father loves the new yacht. Mundane, everyday things that are a simple recount of daily occurrences; a practice that a majority of his patients find tedious indulging with their own parents and claim is time consuming, yet reiterate to their doctor verbatim.

Her last page of correspondence asks about Will. She says she knows that he’s well from Hannibal’s last call, but she wants to know when they’re going to come visit. If they are to make it in time for a Spring wedding, they need to start planning. Hannibal’s induction as Count would be such a lovely time to announce his engagement after all.

Hannibal steps away to find a bottle of aged whiskey he had been saving. He takes deep swallows straight from the bottle until he feels lethargic. Turning back to the last page, the last paragraph makes him weep.

Mischa is going to be flying in from France to New York and would Hannibal be a dear and pick her up? She’s been wanting to meet Will and finally has a break from medical school. She can’t wait to see her brother again after months of phone calls and emails.

He leaves the letter and cooler on the table and stumbles up the stairs to his bedroom. He barely has sense enough to kick his shoes off before he collapses onto the bed and falls into a turbulent sleep filled with half-remembered memories and dreams of a bright life never lived.

When he wakes, Hannibal feels ridiculous. Long hours of consulting with the F.B.I, keeping his regular work hours, and hunting late at night must have taken their toll. He showers, gets dressed in his newest bespoke suit, and heads to the dining room. His meat should be fine packed in dry ice as it was.

He stills as he reaches his foyer. A small table holds a valet for his keys, cell phone, wallet, and his house phone, which is blinking. He pauses, but then reminds himself that he drank nearly half a bottle of whiskey last night and must have slept through the call. Pushing the play button, Hannibal busies himself by tying his tie. An unfamiliar female voice speaks in a familiar cadence, the accent the same as his own.

“My flight should arrive by 5 at JFK, terminal 1. Air France this time. Don’t get mixed up like you did last time! School has been going well, but I’m happy to have a break. But mostly, I’m happy I have a chance to finally come out and see you! Bring Will with you, we can get dinner and I can finally meet my future brother in law! On you of course Dr. Lecter; you can afford to splurge. Or will you be going by ‘Count’ with your patients, ha! We have so much to talk about. Ah, they’re calling for boarding now. Maybe if you bring those chocolate scones I like, I won’t tell Will that story. You know, the one with that whole flock of geese? But you know I love you anyways ‘Annibal. Bye, and I’ll see you soon.”    

He pulls the knot too tight on his tie and just rips it off, with no care given to the silk. He checks the time of the message, and it was this morning at 5:22 A.M. The number is listed as simply ‘Private’ on his caller I.D. He replays it one more time before cancelling his appointments for the day again. He’s not feeling well enough to return to the office after all. He pulls up the flight arrival list for JFK airport and finds no flight arrivals from Air France that day, only departures.

Hannibal Lecter finishes off the rest of that whiskey bottle. He sleeps and dreams of a future that never was.

 

Chapter Text

Will knew he was cutting it close. But he had left his phone at his office, and a quick trip to buy dog food couldn’t take up too much time right? The store was still within town, and he could finish up grading those last few papers too if he was quick and still have enough time to make it to his appointment. What he hadn’t expected was how attractive the guy that helped him load his car was. Talk came easy when it was about his dogs. It was refreshing to be seen as a normal person, not a tool or a man one step away from becoming a killer. And if the last lingering look he was given was any indication, he was seen as just as attractive. Will couldn’t be blamed for his imagination; it was, after all a driving force to his empathy. As he left, he drove faster back to his house. He had enough time to indulge before his appointment. Probably.

He ran upstairs to his former bedroom and pulled out an old milk crate filled with boxes from his closet. Inside one, delicately wrapped in tissue, laid an emerald green underbust corset with black panel inlays and attached garters. It was a simple concept: when Will felt pretty, he wore his pretty things. A few times after speaking with Alana, he arrived the next day to work wearing delicate lace panties, all the more lovely since no one even suspected he wore them. Those days, he felt he actually had a chance with her. Those days hadn’t happened much lately.

He kicked off his shoes and shucked off his clothes, throwing both towards the couch he had switched with the bed now in the living room. Will pulled on a pair of low-rise bikini cut panties he had in the same box. They matched the same emerald green color, with black lace edging and when paired with the corset, left a tantalizing strip of skin that highlighted the edge of his hipbones. Sliding on the corset, he did his best to tighten his laces and adjust the lay of the boning. It really would have worked better with a partner but Will was far too embarrassed to share this with anyone.

He pulled out a standing mirror he had been using as an impromptu coat rack into the middle of the room. Turning around, he looked at himself from all sides, almost feeling like a bird that can’t help but look at the mirror left in its cage. The corset’s edge was vaguely ‘w’ shaped with a sharp point resting on his sternum. His pink nipples were highlighted and framed by the winged edges, contrasting with the deep color of the lingerie and his lighter looking skin. He looked milky, soft and felt hedonistic. Running his hands against the clasps in the front and moving around the bottom edge of the corset, he found the neglected garters and knew that wouldn’t do. Will stepped into the bathroom to shave his legs. It had been far too long since he had done so.

 

*****

 

Hannibal was not a man to worry. Most often, this was because he controlled most of his circumstances. But Will Graham most definitely was within a realm he could control but not as much as he would like. Will was well and truly late to his appointment by 40 minutes. Trying to call his cell went to voicemail. Thinking perhaps he got stuck on a case, Hannibal called Jack Crawford. The agent stated Will made it out at his usual time and did he have to worry about Will losing time again? Hannibal assured him that no, Will simply confused the location of the appointment and had traveled to his house for dinner instead of his office. He was quite sorry to bother him.

Hannibal was on the hunt; he had one last place to check before he took out his anger on a substitute rude person. Gathering his keys, he locked up his office and drove to Wolf Trap, Virginia. When he arrived, he noted Will’s car parked. Looking inside, he found several bags of dog food in the trunk. Moving towards the porch, he could hear the dogs walking around in the living room, scratching at the front door. No doubt remembering the sound of his car and hoping for more sausages from him for dinner. Ever polite, Hannibal knocked…and knocked. By this time, the dogs had started a chorus of barks and yips. Some even peeking through the front window to look at him as if to ask what was taking him so long. Taking their advice, Hannibal half-heartedly tried the knob, thinking of which windows may have been left open, when the door opened. Will hadn’t bothered to lock the door.

Making his way through the crowd of dogs, petting a few absentmindedly, he looked around the living room and saw Will’s messenger bag strewn on the bed. Seeing nothing out of the ordinary, Hannibal made his way upstairs. A door was closed, which was his first place to look. Pushing it open, Hannibal found a sight to behold.

Will was lying across a couch with one leg braced on the back, the other dangling toward the floor. He was running his hands along his fishnet thigh-highs then upwards, following the line of the garters, up the slim line of his waist, to the flared top of a green corset. He finished this cycle with a quick pinch to his nipples and looking towards a mirror, returned his hands on a downward journey to palm himself in damp panties. His member was visible in harsh relief as his hands gently cupped his scrotum, fingers ghosting behind and beneath the fabric to circle his rim. They continued their path downwards to start again at his thighs. Hannibal watched this cycle twice more, feeling himself swell in appreciation of the vision before him. Hating to interrupt the moment, but knowing that doing so would ensure something even more perfect, Hannibal walked fully into the room.

“You had only need call if you were occupied William.”

The way Will froze up and seemed to shrink into himself made Hannibal pause. In that moment, Will covered his face with both hands and gave a self-deprecating laugh.

“Oh God. Of fucking course my psychiatrist would see me like this. You’re going to have a field day.”

“If you care to recall, I am not your psychiatrist in any official capacity William.” Hannibal did not imagine the way the agent’s shoulders tensed up. Will brought his torso up and sat properly on the couch, an arm held protectively over his waist, and a hand rubbing the back of his neck in embarrassment.

“Hey, um. I’m sorry I missed our appointment. I just got…carried away. Umm, if we could both maybe forget about this…”

Hannibal always did know the best time to strike, “I think this would be a good chance to discuss what’s on your mind. Perhaps by hampering a facet of yourself, you are creating division within your own mind. A mind divided could explain your susceptibility to the minds you profile.”

Will stilled in his motions before huffing out a stilted laugh, “Doctor, didn’t I tell you not to psychoanalyze me? You wouldn’t like me psychoanalyzed?”   He glanced at Hannibal’s shoulder before he darted back to the floor.

“If you do not like my line of questioning, perhaps we can return to the psychological ‘low hanging fruit’ of your parents. Specifically your father, William.” Will’s hands clenched. Interesting.

“We can start off with you cutting out with the ‘William’ bit. My dad only called me that when he was mad at me or too drunk to care that I hadn’t done anything wrong.” Will pressed his thighs together to hide the dampness showing through the thin satin.

“Perhaps examining this relationship further would be prudent for your continued psychological welfare. After all, if I’m not your psychiatrist, I am still your friend. I care for you William.” Hannibal hadn’t imagined the quickening of Will’s breath and the faint rosy blush spreading down his cheeks, across his neck to a not unlovely blotchiness on his pale chest. He always did know when to strike.

“Or maybe an exercise would be more beneficial. Let me help you dear Will. Repression is never healthy.” Hannibal moved towards the agent before he spoke in a firmer tone, “Stand up William.”

The quickness in which Will complied shouldn’t have made his blood burn as hot as it did. Hannibal already believed most had traveled to more southern regions. He reached out and grabbed at Will’s hips, thumbing along the strip of skin left exposed between corset and panties. Will wouldn’t meet his eyes, but firmly focused on Hannibal’s lips as he spoke.

“Now William, I want you to be truthful and tell me what brought this on. You knew you had an appointment with me. Daddy was very upset by your rudeness.” The tensing in Will’s hips led to a delicious quivering in the agent’s flanks.  

Will took a moment to lick his lips; his eyes darted away from Hannibal’s face to the mirror behind him. Will met his own eyes for a second and decided to let go; when would he ever get another chance like this?

“I met a boy Daddy. He liked me very much. I couldn’t help but want to look pretty for him.” Will brought up his hands, dragging them down his torso, slowing over his nipples, causing them to furl into tight nubs.

Hannibal was taken out of the fantasy momentarily. He saw the truthfulness in Will’s skittish eyes and ever deepening blush. It seemed Hannibal was going to have someone for dinner after all.

He tightened his fingers, leaving harsh red imprints that would surely bruise. Pulling Will against his torso, trapping his hands between their bodies, Hannibal brought a hand up to wrap around Will’s jaw in a harsh grip.

“You have been very naughty William. Putting another before your Daddy, what’s to be done about that?” The Doctor could feel Will’s straining erection twitch against his stomach; feel the resulting wetness of fresh precum stain those green panties a dark color. When Will finally met his eyes, they were nearly black, the pupil blown full with lust.

He pulled the empath over to an arm of the couch. “Lay over it William, we don’t have time to dawdle.” Will was biting his lower lip hard enough for it to turn white. He turned around, laying his stomach over the armrest. He resisted rutting against it and locked his knees, quivering in anticipation.

Hannibal’s ire was tempered at the lovely bounty before him. The times he had spent discreetly admiring Will’s lovely derriere at appointments had done little to showcase the abundance before him. The panties were pulled tight on that lovely bottom with a delicate black lace trim. The new position brought them up, showcasing the plush curvature of where buttocks met thigh. The garter’s back straps hugged the delicate curve of his outer thigh framing the clipped laced-edge stockings. The mesh of the fishnet highlighted the sharp relief of Will’s well defined calf muscles. Hannibal noted the lack of hair on Will’s legs. Perhaps he had been more serious about a possible dalliance.

Running his hand along the lush curves of the prone man, along the tight lacing on the back of the corset, Hannibal said in a sickly sweet tone, “My sweet William. I know you didn’t go to all this trouble just for our appointment.” His hand caressed along the lace edge stretched over thigh.

“I…I wanted him so bad Daddy. Even if he wasn’t here with me, I could pretend. And maybe…maybe I would have gone back and found him again. I would have brought him back and let him fuck me---” Will cut himself off with a gasp. A sharp slap to his ass radiated a sting he hadn’t felt since he was a child.

“Language William. Daddy has tried to instill better manners than that in you. And I am so disappointed in you. Not only did you renege on your responsibilities, you disrespected me by doing so. Daddy’s time at work is very valuable,” Hannibal slapped the other cheek. Will’s breath started coming in gasps. “But I’m truly disappointed in the fact that you cared more for a stranger than your own Daddy,” three harsh slaps resounded throughout the sentence. Will laid all his weight on his hips and brought his legs up in an attempt to endure his punishment. His toes curled and he braced his arms on the seat cushion, rocking his hips to alleviate the mounting pressure in his groin. A soft sob escaped him.

A hand grabbed his curls and dragged his head back sharply. “Tell me you’re sorry William, like a good boy and I will help you with your problem.” Hannibal dragged finger tips teasingly along the top edge of Will’s panties.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” Will gasped as he pressed his hips back into the hand cupping his thigh.

“You’re sorry about what William? Tell me and I’ll forgive you.”

Will gasped out, “I’m sorry I missed our appointment! I’m sorry I thought about someone else!”

Hannibal’s lips dragged along the shell of Will’s ear, “Tell Daddy that he’s the only one you need.” He pushed his hand into Will’s underwear and ran his fingers teasingly along the crack.

“You’re the only one I need Daddy! Please, just please!” Will felt like he was burning in his corset, the boning more constricting than soothing. He pushed again against Hannibal’s hand and sighed as sure fingers probed his entrance. Hannibal paused.

“Did you prep yourself William?” The slick covering his hand was enough evidence of that.

“Y-yes. I was going to use a dildo and pretend Daddy. Please,” Will turned his head and caught the edge of Hannibal’s jaw in a kiss, “I want the real thing. Fuck me Daddy.” He pushed hard against the hand on his ass, and managed to rub against Hannibal’s considerable bulge.

The tenuous control of Hannibal broke. He wrapped one arm around Will’s waist and dragged him back from the armrest while the other fumbled at his belt and zipper. Hannibal slid his pants down enough that while he sat back on the couch, he was exposed. He pulled Will back into his lap, rubbing his member along the soft satin, “You’ve been such a good boy William, and good boys always get rewards.” Hannibal pulled hard on the edge of the panties, ripping the satin and lace off. Spitting into his hand, he pumped his cock and slicked it before he pressed the head against the lubed rim, pushing in while pulling Will’s hips flush to his own. A soft sigh shuddered through Will as he was filled.

They both took a moment to adjust to the change in sensations. Hannibal nosed along Will’s neck, taking in the salty smell of sweat before he chased a drop with his tongue. He was startled from his task when he felt a hand reach behind his own head and grab at the nape of his neck.

“Let me show you how sorry I am,” Will clenched hard around Hannibal’s length making him sharply inhale. “Let me take care of you Daddy.”

Will brought his legs over the edge of the couch and planted his feet outside Hannibal’s thighs, his own legs wide open. He had seen this once in a porn, and was confident he could do it. Part of him wanted to please Hannibal, the other wanted to surprise him. Maybe he’d be the first one to show the good doctor reverse cow girl.

He arched his back and leaned his head on Hannibal’s shoulder. Turning his head, he mouthed against Hannibal’s jawline, licked delicately at that sharp cheek bone before he whispered in his ear, “I want to show you what a good boy I can be.” He started a gentle rocking motion, fluttering his internal muscles around Hannibal’s length. The doctor hummed and brought an arm around Will’s chest bracing himself as the agent increased his field of motion. Soon, the hard slaps of flesh resounded in the room. Will drove himself hard down against Hannibal’s hipbones raising up enough that the head of his cock teased his rim before he slammed back down. Hannibal was not idle during this, he pinched at Will’s nipples and bit along his shoulder and neck; leaving a band of teeth marks as a brand. He smoothed his other hand down the boning of the corset and pinched at the accentuated waist before grabbing hold of Will’s neglected cock. He thumbed at the head, spreading the copious precum before he started to pump his hips and fist in time with Will’s motions. It became a battle of wills to whom would succumb first.

Will was not one to lose when he had already been bested once before. He reached a hand between his thighs, to where he and Hannibal joined and palmed the doctor’s scrotum before moving to the perineum. If they were anything alike, he had to be sensitive. Rubbing against the patch of flesh caused Hannibal to start panting and lose some of his rhythm as he drove into Will. Knowing he had to bring the big guns, he circled Hannibal’s rim, lightly teasing the edge.

Hannibal’s strokes stuttered as he pulsed inside Will. Gasping, he moved his arm downwards to hold Will’s hips tightly against his own as he filled his very good boy.

He allowed himself a moment to catch his breath; all the while, Will brushed a hand softly through his hair, soothing the adrenaline rush. Such a good boy he was.

And all good boys deserved rewards.

Hannibal pulled out slowly, noting that Will clenched to hold in all of his cum. He moved out from underneath the agent, putting him in the place he had previously occupied. Standing, he turned around, pulling his pants up perfunctory. He saw the confused look on Will’s face and saw the way his expression shuttered. His boy; his sweet boy always did jump to conclusions.

When he slid to his knees between the fishnet covered thighs, Will’s face and flagging erection perked up. Sliding his hands along the mesh, Hannibal thumbed at his boy’s hip bones before encircling his cock in one hand and lowering his mouth to the tip. Giving it a small kiss, he proceeded to bring it into his mouth, tongue running along the veins, he pushed it further until it hit the back of his throat. Bringing it back out until the tip was barely past the seal of his lips, Hannibal twisted his other hand, helped by the new coat of saliva, as he pushed the cock back in. He sucked and swallowed each time Will’s cock hit the back of his throat, alternating with a sharp twist of his wrist around the base as it left.

His boy was a writhing mess, gasping and mumbling sweet requests, “Please, please let me come. Daddy, let me come.” Sweat started to seep through the fabric of his corset, blotching it in soft shapes. His chest heaved and was flushed. Will grabbed and pinched at his chest, twisting his nipples sharply every time his cock hit the back of Hannibal’s throat. His hips would have thrust into the welcoming heat if Hannibal didn’t keep him in check with a hand digging sharply into his hipbone. Looking coyly up between his lashes, Hannibal met Will’s eyes and swallowed his cock as far back into his throat as he could before he hummed.

Will thrashed and his garters strained against the pull of his knees locking; he came with a loud moan and pulsed his release into Hannibal’s throat. He eagerly swallowed it down, only slightly forlorn he couldn’t properly taste it. He consoled himself knowing there would be other times for that. Releasing the spent member with a small pop, he rubbed his hands soothingly along the quivering thighs of his partner. Will had tossed an arm across his eyes and rested his head atop the edge of the couch, struggling to regulate his breathing. Standing up, the doctor moved to sit beside his boy and congenially wrapped an arm around Will’s shoulders.

“Your Daddy is quite pleased with you William; you were such a good boy.”

Will took a moment to lift his arm to look at Hannibal from the side of his eye. “You weren’t too bad yourself Daddy.” A quick smile took a hold of him before they both shared a look and started laughing. Taking a moment to settle, they both basked in the afterglow. Until Will broke it.

“Hey, you’re going to buy me a new pair a panties. Those were part of a matching set,” he said, pointing to his sweat soaked corset. It’s green fabric looking more black than anything else.

Hannibal chuckled softly, before tilting Will’s head towards him with his fingertips, giving light pecks and sucking on Will’s bottom lip, before he replied, “I’ll buy you a set in every color. You will be resplendent in silk and lace that only I will have the privilege of buying or seeing.” Will surged forward, kissing Hannibal fiercely and lapped his tongue against Hannibal’s own.

“It’s a deal Daddy,” Will said as he moved back into Hannibal’s lap, twisting his hands behind his head to continue his kisses.

 

*****

 

After they had figured out the new name for their relationship (boyfriends), and parameters of said relationship (you’re mine and I’m yours), Hannibal invited Will to dinner at his house at 7. It gave them time to wrap up things they had inadvertently not finished throughout their day and still meet up and explore their new relationship.

It also gave Hannibal time to prepare dinner. As he left Will’s house, he again noticed the large bags of dog food in the trunk of the car. Having a good place to start, he looked up the nearest pet supply stores on his phone and narrowed it down to one by sheer proximity.

Hannibal had claimed his prize and no one would interfere. He was on the hunt, and such spoils would be fed lovingly to his new boyfriend. After all, a good daddy had to take care of his growing boy.

 

Chapter Text

Hannibal’s trial started on a lovely Monday morning that was far too lovely for such a scandalous affair. But as Hannibal was led from the transport van through a back entrance in shackles, he closed his eyes and basked in the warmth. His jump suit was traded for one of his exquisite suits, which felt like a piece of home was returned to him. The loud murmurs and multiple TV cameras firmly returned him to the present. He felt settled. He knew what he was, now he only had to wait for all the pigs to recognize the wolf in their midst.

The trial took months. He felt the prosecutor was trying to make a name for himself. The claims were outlandish, the witnesses barely relevant. Most were used to paint him as an indifferent man that ‘I knew something wasn’t right with’. Many of his high society dining companions were exaggerated and over the top. How they joined a lonely man for his dinner parties but when they ate, they ‘just felt something was off’. Pathetic. Most had asked for seconds.

It droned on and on. Hannibal could care less, but the banality of the judicial process was tiring. Most days he looked forward to returning to his cell. There was very little physical evidence since most was devoured, but the photos of his crime scenes were plastered over the projector screen time and time again. It was rather nice to return to his mind palace and revisit his greatest hits.

The small blip had been an exclusive exposé from Freddie Lounds of his basement. Or as she had described, ‘Hannibal the Cannibal’s Basement of Horrors.’ There were dim photographs highlighting the chains hanging from the ceiling, the stainless steel work tables, and the plastic hanging from the walls. There was a renewal of public outcry and several witnesses fainted on the stand, ‘it could have been me,’ they said. No, it could not. Hannibal was very careful about what he put in his body.

All of this became a boring routine for Hannibal as he turned more inward as the months dragged on. He thought of improvements on his favorite recipes, which herbs he would have rotated in his garden, and how Will Graham was. No one told him whether he survived, but Hannibal always gave Will the benefit of the doubt. He always had found ways to surprise the doctor.

As if summoned by his thoughts, Ms. Lounds ran another article describing the state of Agent Graham. He would have eagerly read it if he hadn’t seen the photos splashed obscenely beneath the headline. They were obviously taken late at night in the hospital, all the sharp florescent lighting was turned on in the hospital room. The bright unnatural light washed out Will’s skin, highlighting the shadows made by losing weight he didn’t have to lose. He had a feeding tube and was connected to several IV drips. He was tucked under a thin hospital blanket, his face obscured by an oxygen mask. Hannibal felt irrationally angry. He knew he was the one to put Will there, but to have Will’s most vulnerable moment splayed before everyone was quite rude. He didn’t bother reading the article.

A few weeks later, as closing statements were set to begin, a more excited murmur rose from the crowd rather than the harsh whispers that had been occurring lately. A solitary figure sliced through the masses, the crowd leaving a wide buffer of space, but staring intent after the figure’s wake. Moving to the front row behind the prosecution, was Will Graham.

It was as if a cold piece of himself unfurled and basked in the sunlight like that first day he was allowed outside of his cell and away from his warden. Hannibal basked in Will Graham’s visage and eagerly ate it up. He looked wan, cheeks more tight against his skull. His hair looked longer and just as unkempt. He had moved slowly and braced himself against the railing before he sat down. He must still have been in pain. But having your intestines spilled out could do that to you.

Hannibal had been surprised that Will hadn’t been called as a witness for the prosecution. But after seeing the Tattle Crime article, he had suspected Will was in a medically induced coma. His being here was miraculous; physical therapy couldn’t have been completed this fast, let alone the healing of the abdominal muscles. Slightly worried, he continued to glance at Will from the corner of his eye.

Will Graham showed up every day from then on. Hannibal felt an irrational level of embarrassment over the prosecutor’s showy style and theatrical arguments. But Will didn’t react at all. He only came in, sat down slowly, and watched placidly. Hannibal was unsure of his purpose there, perhaps it was a bit of final closure for him? But Hannibal drank it up. Will started to get more color, and walked less stiffly as the days moved on. The doctor was content.

Hannibal’s attorney took a less dramatic approach in his closing statements. Hannibal could appreciate the logical arguments he presented. He could appreciate them, but didn’t give any of his attention to them. That was focused continuously on Will Graham and the calm way he held himself. He wasn’t anxious or sweaty nor were his eyes focused on the ground. This Will Graham was irrevocably changed.

That calm was broken one day when Ms. Freddie Lounds pushed her way through the crowds to a seated Will Graham before court was called into order. With a graceful flip of her red ringlets, she strode calmly towards the agent, using her soft placating voice, “Agent Graham, if I could possibly get a statement from you on your thoughts on the trial? Or maybe we can discuss the possibility of a book?”

That was when Hannibal finally saw a reaction from Will Graham.

“Ms. Lounds, your lack of journalistic integrity continues to astound me. You should not be here. I have a restraining order on you. Remember? After that little stunt where you snuck into my hospital room and took pictures of me in a coma?”

The bailiff chose that moment to drag an indignant Ms. Lounds from the court room. When Hannibal finally returned his gaze to Will, he was met with his eyes. They held eye contact for only a moment, but Hannibal saw a spark of self-satisfaction. Will had enjoyed having Ms. Lounds thrown out. Curious.

Hannibal’s lawyer finished his closing statements that day. The jury had a historically short deliberation. Hannibal Lecter received several life sentences without the possibility of parole. The court room cheered and several family members of victims burst into tears. For once, it was Hannibal who stared placidly ahead. It had been a forgone conclusion after all.

As he was led away in cuffs, he cast one last look to Will and saw that same spark of self-satisfaction. Oh, he finally saw. Will Graham, pleased that he had been understood, gave a brief nod as he slipped out of the court room before any other reporters tried to ask him for a statement.

Hannibal Lecter watched Will Graham leave and wanted to smile and throw his head back in laughter. Will had a restraining order on Freddie Lounds and used it to keep her from reporting on the end of the ‘trial of the century’. Oh, how delicious.

 

Chapter Text

It was strange how one seemingly innocuous sound could have brought about his end. While Miriam Lass was looking over his various drawings and spotted the ‘Wound Man’ sketch, he had tried to soundlessly sneak up on her. But then a floor board inadvertently creaked. She had enough time to turn around and get a few shots off, one striking him in the shoulder. She was quick, he’d give her that. She had him cuffed and transported within the hour. When his house was searched, it was again she who found the other entrance to a sub-level of his basement. Miriam Lass had quite a career ahead of her with her observational skills and quick thinking. It was only a shame it had to be him that was caught by her skills. His trial was quick, his conviction laughably fast, and Hannibal Lecter found himself in the care of a subpar colleague at the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.

He had been moved without much fanfare. He was slightly disappointed his protégé, Alana Bloom hadn’t sent him off with some sort of farewell. But the last he had seen her, she was filled with rage and hurt and didn’t bother hiding her tears as she saw him led from the courtroom out to the transport van headed to the hospital. His cell had been the last on the row; he hadn’t taken the time to observe any of his cell mates since he rationalized he wouldn’t be able to see them anyways. What good was it knowing the faces of the condemned?

It had been a drastic shift for him the first few weeks. Most of the time, Chilton dragged him out of his cell in attempts to perform therapy or collect enough information for a research paper. The rest of the time he was punished in childish fits of anger: his books were taken, the lights were left on for days, or a television was wheeled in front of his cell blaring a televangelist preaching for hours. Hannibal took this all in stride. He retreated to his mind palace and spent his days reliving his more dramatic kills or the more succulent meals they had provided. His weeks bled into months in this fashion until the monotony was broken up by Jack Crawford striding through the cell block. Hannibal recognized that heavy stride and sat up on his bed in preparation. But he was surprised when Jack stopped in front of the cell beside his.

“Hello Will.”

There was a sound of shifting, the mattress pad against the bed frame. And then a disused voice answered in a raspy manner, “Hello Jack. If I had known you were coming, I would have spruced up the place.”

“I wouldn’t want you to go to all that trouble on my account.” There was a sound of paper rustling, a file. “I have a case that we just can’t crack. We need your eyes on this.”

There was another shifting sound, then footsteps he’d never heard before, this ‘Will’ was pacing his cell. “You have tons of profilers. Hell, you even have your golden girl, Miriam Lass. She caught me; she’s good.”

“She can’t get a read on this. This one is something else. We need your help or the bodies are going to keep piling up.”

“You can’t use that old argument on me Jack. I’m the one that added to the pile of bodies.”

Hannibal was intrigued. Another serial killer perhaps? And an atypical one if he used to work for Jack Crawford and the F.B.I. Interesting.

Jack sighed. “I’m only asking you to look. I’ll leave the file here and if you want to talk, let Chilton know. I know we left on bad terms, but at one time we were friends. I’m the one who talked to the prosecution to take the death penalty off the table because of my conscience. I pushed you too hard, I know that. Just please, think on it.” Then Jack’s steps retreated down the hall, echoing that heavy tread.

“I know you’re listening Dr. Lecter.”

“I wasn’t aware you knew my name.”

“Everyone knows your name Dr. Lecter.”

“Call me ‘Hannibal’ please. I am afraid I cannot give you the same courtesy.”

“My name’s Will Graham.”

The name was vaguely familiar to Hannibal, but not enough to give him any idea of what would have led Will to the hospital. “If I may ask…”

“I can feel the curiosity from here. You want to know why I’m here right?”

“If it’s not too much trouble, then yes.”

“Dr. Lec---Hannibal. I have nothing but time left. Shall I start at the beginning then?”

“That is usually the place to start.” Hannibal could appreciate the spark that Will still had even in this environment.

“I used to be a cop in New Orleans. There isn’t much to say about that than I was good at my job and found I could read the crime scenes better than most. But it was so easy for me to slip into the point of view of anyone. I had just thought it was good police work, but I was getting lost within my own mind. I got stabbed by a suspect when I hesitated in shooting him. I told everyone the injury was why I left the police force. But the real reason was that I couldn’t shoot him because in that moment, I was him. I knew his motivations, I knew how badly he wanted to escape, that desperation ate me up and he stabbed me. I had lost myself. But I thought, maybe I can use this. I can do good somewhere else. So I signed up for the F.B.I. training academy in Quantico. I wasn’t the best in class, that went to Miriam Lass, but I did well enough. It was the practicums where I shined. I could pick apart a crime scene and create a profile easily because I knew the killer as well as myself. Jack Crawford took notice of me and brought me on to consult. I thought I was ready and I knew this was what I had signed up for but…” Will stopped to gather his thoughts. Hannibal pressed himself against the bars and inhaled deeply, trying to catch the scent of this killer. It was illusive, much like how Will looked.

Will cleared his throat, “It was one of those, ‘you look into the abyss, the abyss looks into you’ situations. I thought I was doing good, and I was. But looking was bad for me. I couldn’t shake off what I brought back. My mind is a writhing mass of psychosis and neurosis; my empathy let me get too deep in the minds I was profiling. It shouldn’t have been a surprise when I broke. My mind snapped and all I knew was a sharp need for blood and had multiple M.O.’s in my mind. But I wanted my own, I wanted so badly to have my own identity after so long drowning in others.”

Hannibal could hear the pacing resume. “It was fulfilling. I felt like a whole person again. I wasn’t some patchwork creation of killers. I loved killing, I finally felt powerful. But I got sloppy. It was Miriam Lass who eventually caught me. We were in the same class together discussing one of my crime scenes of the ‘Wolf Trap Killer’, when I mentioned the liver was cut out while the victim was alive; the killer was a sadist. But there was no mention of that in our materials. She looked into it and connected how close I lived to a majority of the crime scenes, how I had no alibis. She found bloody clothes in my trash. It was easy for them to catch me after that. Jack Crawford couldn’t believe it. But when he did, that strange moral compass of his helped keep me off death row. But where the fuck was it when I was breaking apart? He had known but as long as I was useful he kept using me.”

“And he continues to use you now it seems.” Hannibal could remember the last few scenes of the Wolf Trap Killer vividly. They had been grotesque and vile and all the more lovely by the sheer rage that it took to rip and shred a human being into pieces of flesh. They covered large areas, the body splayed in the middle of somewhere outside. The flesh was torn off in strips with jagged edges as if he had pushed his hand inside and rendered the flesh off the bone. The organs were clawed out and torn; the arterial splatter leaving large patterns of blood in an almost Pollock like painting. Hannibal had been entranced and had so desperately wanted to meet the mind behind them. But for all the memorization of the scenes, he could not recall what the killer, this Will Graham, looked like. He never wanted to know something so desperately before.

“He’s tried to use me, but I always refuse. I meant what I said; looking isn’t good for me. But at least I get to use my voice once in a while.”

Hannibal was surprised. “Doesn’t Chilton try to work with you?”

“Heh, he’s tried. The trick is to exploit his weakness as a narcissist. Completely change the game and psychoanalyze him. A few times, I’m pretty sure I made him cry. He tends to leave me alone now.”

“Why are you offering this advice?”

“Let’s just say I’m not a fan of the long televangelist marathons. The sound echos through the hall and I can’t sleep either.”

“Touché.”

The next time Chilton strolled down to his cell, speaking in that taunting tone, asking if he was ready for his session, Hannibal easily dismantled him. From his substandard research to his pathetic attempts at therapy, he attacked the doctor’s whole career. Chilton left quickly and did not resume his therapy sessions.

It was only later Hannibal lamented that he should have gone to one last session just so he could finally notice what Will Graham looked like.

 

*****

 

They settled into a peaceful camaraderie. Although they could never see each other, sometimes they would speak. Sometimes soon turned to daily and Hannibal could say they were friends. Perhaps more than friends if he were perfectly honest. He had loved the savagery of the Wolf Trap Killer and reconciled with Will Graham’s mind, Hannibal found the perfect amalgamation of every trait he most loved.

And now that he had something to hold dearly to, Hannibal wasn’t content to allow this relationship to continue further as it had been. Hannibal needed to get out. And he was going to take Will Graham with him.

 

*****

 

The opportunity came in the way of Will being led off for a scheduled medical check. Hannibal knew this would be his best chance. He rose a bit of a ruckus until an orderly came to check.

“Excuse me, it appears I spilled some of my breakfast on the sheets of my bed. If it’s not too much trouble, could they be changed?”

As Hannibal hadn’t caused any trouble, he wasn’t classified as high risk. He was simply cuffed and led into the hallway, surrounded on both sides by orderlies, as another went into the cell to change his sheets. From there, it was easy. He was able to quickly snap the neck of one and crush the larynx of the other. While that one was left inaudibly gasping, a quick kick to the neck quieted him. Hannibal waited a moment for the third orderly to come out of his cell before he slipped his cuffs off with the proffered key taken from one of the bodies and met the punch aimed at his head with a forearm. He grabbed onto the wrist with his other hand and snapped it, further twisting and dislocating the elbow. The orderly fell to his knees and Hannibal snapped his neck quickly. He still had Will Graham to collect after all.

He dragged the bodies into his cell, taking the uniform off the one most like his body type, before changing. He grabbed as many keys as he could find and hoped he would have enough time. And so, Hannibal Lecter walked out of his cell block and to the upper floors; destination: the medical wing.

He made it easily through the hallways. Most of the security was placed at the entrance to the various cell blocks. But with his cell being accessed, all the security for his floor had moved to keep him from a possible escape. Hannibal was sure there were various procedures to leave at least one in charge of the security door, but none of the orderlies had suspected such an attempt today. He made it to the medical wing, nodding absently to other nurses and doctors. They half glanced at him and vaguely nodded back. Sloppy. Chilton was running a hospital on the road to implosion.

He found a nurse’s station and quickly looked up which room Will would be in. Hannibal didn’t trust just moving along the halls; he was unsure of what to look for. Finding he was at a room not too far away, he glanced at Will’s chart. He was having some blood work done and a new chemical cocktail injected to test effectiveness for his ‘treatment’. Feeling optimistic about his chances of taking Will with him, he found a wheelchair and stopped at a med cart. Looking through the drawers, he found a scalpel that was more than likely used for lancing than surgery, but it would have to do. Slipping it in his pocket, he wheeled the chair to Will’s room.

There was a nurse in the room, monitoring his vitals and taking notes. Most likely the chemical cocktail had been injected and Chilton wanted extensive notes on physiological effects before he attempted to use it in therapy. When his eyes moved to the man strapped to a gurney, his steps stopped. Will was young, younger than he had thought and far more handsome. His curls were in disarray, sticking to his forehead and gathering sweat. His head was lolled to the side, delicate tendons straining in his neck. It was the light beard Hannibal hadn’t expected, but it added a ruggedness to an otherwise beautiful face. Continuing with his plan, he pushed the wheelchair into the room.

“Chilton wants him returned to his cell.”

The nurse made an aggravated noise. “Then you’re going to have to wait. I have to finish the observation. Come back in an hour. I have to give him a second dose soon.” She continued writing on his chart, noting the elevated blood pressure, presumably. If she had cared, she wouldn’t even consider administrating more. But as Hannibal had come to believe, this hospital was staffed by the perpetually lazy. Orders were followed unless it took too much effort to do so. Feeling vindicated in his choice of fate for the nurse, Hannibal pulled the scalpel from his pocket and struck fast.

He had to cut through her throat with more of a sawing motion than he liked. The scalpel was woefully blunter than he was used to. The noises of her chocking on blood filled the room with the intermittent beep of Will’s heart monitor. Feeling his cruelty rise up with her wet gasps he cut her face ear to ear, leaving her teeth fully visible. He pushed his hand into the ruined meat of her throat and dragged out her tongue, leaving it to hang. There was nothing worse than a nurse that didn’t take into account their patient’s health over a doctor’s orders.

Rising up over her prone body, Hannibal stood before Will. He found hazy blue eyes making contact with his.

“Hello Hannibal.”

He smiled, “Hello Will.” Hannibal moved to a sink to wash off the blood coating his hands and forearms. He walked back to the heart monitor and shut it off before removing the finger cuff from Will. He unstrapped the arm restraints, all the while counting Will’s heartbeats, estimating when it would self-correct. He helped Will sit up, savoring his warmth and scent.

“Now then, we must get going. We are on a strict timetable.” Hannibal then proceeded to pick Will up carrying him to the wheelchair. He hadn’t expected to need it, but it would be faster and inconspicuous; simply an orderly taking a patient from one room to another.

“I’m not sure if I should be mad at how easily you did that,” Will said as he settled in the chair.

Hannibal took a moment to search the nurse’s pockets. Finding her set of car keys, he pushed Will and headed towards the parking lot.

“Are you referring to how quickly I killed her or how easily I picked you up?”

“Now that you mention it, both I suppose.” Will’s voice sounded clearer, he was sitting more upright; the drugs must have been working their way out of him. Hannibal felt content. Their conversations were just as easy as they had been when locked in their cells. He knew he had made the right choice.

They walked past a group of doctors that simply ignored the orderly pushing a patient. Hannibal wouldn’t chance their good luck, but truly the state of this institution was deplorable. It wasn’t just the administrator that was incompetent, it was the whole staff. Hannibal suspected nepotism played a large part in most of the appointments and couldn’t wait for the punishments that would arrive at Chilton’s doorstep for letting 2 prolific serial killers essentially walk out.

As they made it to the back door leading out to the parking lot, Will waved Hannibal to stop and stood up from the wheelchair. He walked over to open the door for Hannibal, cheekily waving him in. The doctor was pleased, he did so love good manners. Hannibal pushed the unlock button on the key fob of the nurse’s keys and found a small sedan flashing its lights. Both killers got in and Hannibal pulled out to the main road, headed toward a hidden cache where he had kept money in case he ever had to run. He hadn’t the chance last time, and this time he had Will to take care of as well. If his plans panned out, they would both make it to Europe by tomorrow. He had several other cache spots spread throughout the region. They could live easily and Hannibal could get the time to fully understand Will.

“So, where to Doctor?” Will sat casually in his seat. He looked out the side window and cracked it open to let the wind in.

This was a moment Hannibal had been anticipating. Gripping tight on the steering wheel, he kept focused on the road. A lot rode on Will’s answer, and Hannibal was loath to kill him after breaking him out. But Hannibal would only accept a partner, nothing less.

“That depends entirely on you Will. I’m quite famished. I believe Uncle Jack has a golden goose that could prove to be quite appetizing.”

Will laughed, “I knew it! You hated losing the game! I had a bit in my profile of the ‘Chesapeake Ripper’ that theorized that you chose your victims based on grudges.”

Hannibal glanced at him and smirked, “Close, I usually chose them based on their level of rudeness.”

Will’s eyes crinkled at the edges and he gave a soft laugh, “Of course. Did you know Ms. Lass dug through my trash at night to find evidence? The next day, I thought raccoons had gotten to it; there was trash all across my lawn. And she shot you in the shoulder. Rather rude, don’t you think?”

Hannibal had indeed made the right choice and felt a little bit more in love.

 

Chapter Text

Hannibal’s encounters with Clarice had been a welcome break in monotony. But he had been surprised. He had always expected Jack Crawford to send his favorite tool back into the dark places that weren’t good for him. After he had cultivated a rapport with the young trainee, he had inquired about Will Graham. She shot off an offhanded remark that he had retreated to somewhere in Florida with his disfigured face and was a barely functional alcoholic. He couldn’t help the rise in rage over her rudeness. Will Graham had sacrificed so much to save lives at the cost of his own sanity. And this trainee couldn’t solve one case without someone to hold her hand. Will hadn’t needed someone to lead him, only a paddle to help steady him. Making sure his face remained politely neutral, he asked for some crime scene photos. Hannibal was very good at getting what he wanted. And if he needed a bit of quid pro quo to get it done, then so be it.

 

***

 

His escape was ridiculously simple. People looked to the most obvious answer too often. What was law enforcement coming to if their observational skills were so dismal? The face of the police officer was peeled off and Hannibal walked free.

He found one of his secret cache spots easily. He had money and a passport and was ready to leave to Italy as soon as possible. Yet, there was a pang of some long held sentiment. He couldn’t help but recall Clarice’s words about Will Graham. His decision was rash but surprisingly comforting.   He made it to Florida with no one the wiser.

Locating Will wasn’t hard. He vaguely remembered Will speaking of islands as somewhere he could see himself retiring. He stuck to coastal towns near the Florida Keys and inquired about boat engine repairs. He heard of a boat mechanic on Sugarloaf key that can make even the most hopeless engines work and knows he’s found his agent.

He found him living in Upper Sugarloaf Key near a wildlife refuge. It’s peaceful and quiet, much as Wolf Trap, Virginia must have been for Will before too much of his work bled over into its walls. The house is a small 2-story bungalow, painted a soft yellow. Something stopped his approach however. He could hear a faint sound of barking in the distance, behind the house. Keeping to the edge of the wildlife reserve, Hannibal crept toward the sound.

There stood Will Graham. He had retained a lankiness that was a possible result of the alcoholism. But in the setting Florida sun, Hannibal could only notice those brown curls, highlighted gold. And Will looked so happy and content in that moment, Hannibal couldn’t bear to disturb him. Will was throwing a stick to a small pack of dogs and looked at peace. The doctor retreated back into the town proper. Another moment of indecision hit him. There was a small airport on the island; he could easily make a flight to Puerto Rico and arrive in Italy within the day. But again, some rash part of himself rose up and decided to stay. Hannibal found a hotel and settled in quietly. He promised himself he would leave by the end of the week.

He returned the next day to that small yellow house. Will sat in a covered parkway and was surrounded by parts of the dismantled motor he was fixing. In the full daylight, Hannibal could see the damage Dolarhyde had inflicted. Thick lines of scar tissue cut across his cheek, dangerously close to the bottom of his eye. A slice cut through the bridge of his nose creating a divot in its profile. His lips were bisected and had healed in a puckered manner, traveling downward toward his chin. At the time, Hannibal had been feeling cruel. Being locked up had greatly diminished his opportunities for intellectual pursuit. Creating a bit of chaos sounded intriguing. But the full impact of his decision to send Dolarhyde after Will was laid fully before him. That combined with the scar he knew was across Will’s abdomen, the one he had been nearly disemboweled by, added to the patchwork of his skin. Hannibal could regret giving him that scar, but at the time he had been trying to escape capture. He would have succeeded if Will hadn’t held his intestines with one hand and shot him with the other. Quid pro quo. He left, once again.

Hannibal looked up flight schedules and kept convincing himself he’d only visit one more time. Will Graham deserved the peace he had wanted all along. He busied himself by watching the various news stations speculate where he had escaped to, various ‘sightings’, and a replay of a news conference with Jack Crawford. In his shadow stood Clarice, stiff and attempting to mask the anxiety she must feel with so much attention. She may have been the last living person he spoke to, but he had no designs on her end. She had served her purpose and now Hannibal had to find his again.

By the time he builds up the courage to see Will one last time, it is nearing twilight. He had wasted away the day buying new clothes, packing, and repacking. He was firm in his decision to leave. He had checked out of the hotel and his rental car was full of his luggage. Hannibal planned to head to the airport right after this. He parked the car a half mile down the road and walked along the wildlife refuge again. When he came upon the house, he was surprised to see Will sitting on the porch, drinking a beer.

“Jack called earlier in the week to let me know you escaped. I was supposed to call if you came around.”

“And why haven’t you? I could have easily been back in custody if you had called the first day.”

Will took a deep swig from his bottle, “Ha, why should I? What Jack does isn’t my business anymore and the worst you can do is kill me. I have nothing to lose.”

“Oh Will. When did you turn so nihilistic?”

“Probably when you gutted me. Or the time you sent your pet serial killer after me. Third time’s the charm Dr. Lecter, get it over with and finish me off.” He finished his beer, placing the bottle on the porch before he stood.  

Hannibal walked toward the covered porch. He had expected hostility, but never such pessimism. “Why do you suspect I’ve had designs on your death? Think Will. I am a trained surgeon. If I had wanted you dead the first time, I would have simply stabbed you in the aorta and watched you bleed out. As for the second…perhaps I was trying to recreate a moment from our past. I sent you to Tobias Budge and you came out victorious. You survived Dolarhyde.” He walked up the stairs slowly, “And for that, I am reminded of the esteem I hold for you. Nothing stops you, not even me.”

“So what, trying to recreate our greatest hits? I recall after the Budge incident, you teared up at the idea I was alive. How much of that was a lie? Or was that moment needed to manipulate me? You were my friend…I had so few of those. But, I cared for you. You helped me through the worst moments of my life, but in the end, most of those moments were of your creation. And you couldn’t help yourself could you? You had to keep picking at the scab to watch it bleed.”

Will leaned against the porch railing, “Just---I’m tired Hannibal. Whatever plan you’ve had for me, just finish it. I’m not living anymore, I’m existing until I build up the courage to end it.”

Oh, that would not do at all. He hadn’t anticipated Will being so completely shattered. Where was that sarcastic wit? The man that even when his life was falling apart held onto the one piece of hope he knew in his entire being was true.

“I never took you for a weak man Will. You were strong enough to endure my brand of punishments, don’t say some second-rate serial killer is the one to do you in.”

“Have you seen my face? I just need to accept that I’m unlucky as fuck. In my life, I’ve already had an inflamed brain, been shot several times, falsely imprisoned, been gutted by my closest friend, and had my face nearly torn off. But I guess you’re familiar with that huh? Did that cop scream the whole time you cut it off?”   

He chose to ignore Will’s rudeness. “You’re being pessimistic again. Wouldn’t it be fair to say you are lucky? You’ve survived all these things,” Hannibal moved closer. He couldn’t help but admire the way Will’s new face shifted and pulled as he spoke; the thick pink lines of scar tissue reminding him of the delicate veins of a rose petal. And right now, Will was acting just as prickly.

“I’ve only survived based on my sense of morality, I had to survive to do the right thing. But, I don’t have that drive anymore, I’ve lost it. There’s nothing left for me here, I just want to rest. Ha, you couldn’t even allow me that. I just…I don’t understand then. Why did you come here if it wasn’t to kill me? Observation? Some strange closure? What Dr. Lecter?”

Hannibal took a moment to gather his thoughts, wanting Will to see his honesty. “When I escaped custody, I was intent on leaving to Italy. But I had heard some disturbing information concerning you. I couldn’t help but want to see you; any sense of friendship I felt for you compelled me to seek you out. I am unsure exactly what I wished to achieve, but seeing you was enough for a time. I kept returning to add another image of you to my memory. Today was going to be the last time,” Hannibal moved next to Will against the railing, daring to cup his ruined face. The former agent flinched and tried to pull away.

Hannibal simply moved closer, crowding Will against the railing. He shushed him softly, rubbing a thumb gently along the curves and ridges of scar tissue. “Dear Will, I think I have finally uncovered what I came here to do.”

“And---and what is that Doctor?” Will was trembling and looked ready to bolt. He may have been prepared for physical violence, but had clearly not anticipated tenderness.

“Hmm, why to collect you of course,” Hannibal took a moment to hold Will’s scent and savor it. It held the familiar components of motor oil and dog hair, but was tempered with the sourness of a pervading layer of alcohol. He would need to change Will’s unhealthy lifestyle, “Let me take care for you.”

“I think I’ve had enough of your ‘care’, thank you very much.” Will tried to shift away from Hannibal’s hand, but found himself corralled in by his other arm braced against the railing.

“You’ve only felt the brunt of my curiosity. Let me show you my regard,” Hannibal pecked lightly at the scar running over the bridge of Will’s nose, lapping at its path with his tongue.

Will startled badly and almost broke Hannibal’s nose with how quickly he jerked his head, “I---but why? Why now after everything?”

“We are both adrift; I will be your paddle, and you can be my anchor.” He sealed this promise with a kiss to Will’s ruined lips, feeling the tight-pulled skin and rough scar tissue. He could feel Will’s lips respond and counted it as a small victory.

The former agent pulled away and tilted his head from Hannibal to finally meet his eyes. “That’s…from anyone else that would be beautiful.” Will was calming down. His body was letting go of its rigid posture and leaning towards Hannibal’s warmth.

“If it’s not beautiful, then what is it?”

“Temptation.”

“You have lived an honest life and fought the good fight long enough. The choices you’ve made were never fully your own; they were based on what you felt was right. But right is not always fair. And it is not fair that all your good work has led you here. If you want to let go of your life, let me carry it.” Hannibal felt a compulsion to move closer to feel his exhalations of breath and greedily breathe them in.

“You want me to put my life in your hands?”

“Isn’t that what you were already doing? Waiting here, expecting to die?”

“So, what exactly are you saying? You want to go on the run together?”

Hannibal finally gave into his compulsion and moved his lips close to Will’s so every movement would catch and drag on the puckered scars. “Yes. I was planning on Europe, but we could fly anywhere you have ever wished to visit.” Each word was punctuated with soft contact, Will held still by the remaining hand on his cheek.

“Argentina. I---when I was a kid, I had seen a documentary…I just thought it was pretty. But, umm…” Will whispered as if sharing a large secret. Hannibal simply breathed him in more.

Will’s embarrassment was precious. The doctor especially liked how his blush made the pink lines of scar tissue stand out in flushed relief. Perhaps Will did not have his understated beauty anymore, but the doctor found he was oddly charmed by this new face. It held a rich vibrancy and asymmetrical loveliness that made Hannibal want to trace each line with his fingers and tongue. Will Graham had endured and survived, Hannibal was now determined to ensure he lived.

“We can go there. There is an exquisite opera house I would love to show you,” he stepped away to ensure sustained eye contact, “But first, perhaps you would like to take a quick detour to Jamaica. There is someone there that I believe we would both simply love to have for dinner.”

Will straightened from his languid pose, “Who?”

“Dr. Chilton is vacationing there at the moment. It would only take a day or so and I’m sure we both have much to discuss with him,” that sharp smile he always hid behind closed lips made its appearance. Will knew exactly what he was, there was no need to hide. He hadn’t thought to take this avenue of action, but with Will by his side, Chilton would be an absolute pleasure.

Will looked off toward the nature preserve in thought, his answer was far quicker than Hannibal anticipated. “Give me an hour to settle some things, and I’ll be ready.”

He met Hannibal’s eyes again, the blue irises as bright as their namesake. Will ran his tongue along the scar bisecting his lips before he spoke softly, “I’ve missed our conversations. I’ve missed you.”

Hannibal smiled with rarely given warmth, “And I you dear Will.” He moved the thumb resting against Will’s cheek along the scar beneath his eye, “And I you.”  

 

Chapter Text

The imposing building for the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane rose up from various shade trees as Will’s taxi made it around a bend. His hands clenched tightly on the strap of his bag. His options were few and far between. And loath as he was to return here voluntarily, he knew it’d be the safest place he could be.

He was shown to Dr. Chilton’s office quickly. Sitting in one of the chairs and placing his bag on the floor beside him, Will waited for the good doctor to show up. He ran through his mental checklist again to settle that bubble of doubt that kept rising up; a creeping feeling of terror. Taking a deep breath, he thought over how he had slowly adopted out every dog he had, each more difficult than the last to give up. He had taken an extended leave from work, telling Jack he was going back to Louisiana to visit family. He’d locked up his house and shut off all the utilities; he didn’t see himself moving back anytime soon. He’d sold his car and had taken to using public transportation or taxis, all paid with cash. He’d bought plane tickets and rented hotel rooms that he was never going to use. He had shut off his cell phone and left it in his office. He kept his credit and debit cards in the last pocket of his wallet; a small amount of cash was what he was going to survive on. But this hospital, the place he always feared would never let him out, would be his respite.

Chilton walked in, the swing of his cane fluid and sure. Will knew this narcissist was attempting to intimidate him, he was after all on enemy territory. Taking another deep breath, Will stood and offered a hand in greeting, “Good morning Dr. Chilton, thank you for taking the time to see me.” His hand was shaken in the most obligatory manner before the doctor sat and Will followed suit.

“Mr. Graham, to what do I owe the pleasure? How may I help the F.B.I. today?”

Will shifted in his seat, “Actually, I’m not here on any official capacity. This is more of a personal matter.”

“Oh?” Chilton leaned forward, twirling his cane. “And what do you think I can help you with Mr. Graham?”

Taking a moment to gather his thoughts, he knew he was going to start at the very beginning.

Will started by explaining how he came to meet Dr. Hannibal Lecter and subsequently, started dating him.

 

*****

 

When Hannibal was brought on to help stabilize him, a part of Will could appreciate Jack finally taking responsibility for the deterioration of his mind. But he was mostly upset with the possibility of the doctor getting into his head. But their strained work relationship developed easily into a comfortable friendship. That should have been the first red flag for Will; he didn’t make friends easily. It took him a long time to realize that he had worked so hard to keep Hannibal out of his mind that he let him in with accepting breakfast or coffee from the doctor. It paralleled how he would softly coax weary strays he found to accept his help. Will Graham hadn’t realized that just as his dogs, he was won over by a kind hand. Both he and his dogs were easily susceptible since they had seen such little kindness in their lives.

It was when Will started losing time and his sleep walking started getting out of control that their dynamic shifted. He had arrived at the doctor’s office mid-hallucination. Garret Jacob Hobbs and the stag had been in his periphery since the last crime scene and had followed him throughout the day, even watching his lecture. He had driven quickly to Dr. Lecter’s office in the hope that he was still in. He didn’t know what Hannibal could do for him, but Will felt like his brain was burning through his skull. But he had helped him before when he had awoken in his office not remembering how he got there. Relived to see the lights still on, he had knocked on the door frantically, feeling the shadows in the waiting room seep into his skin, ready to drown him.

When the door was answered, Will couldn’t explain the relief he felt when he saw his friend there. He knew everything would be alright and he wouldn’t have to hold the fragile pieces of his mind together on his own anymore. The light had shown into the waiting room chasing away the shadows and Will collapsed against the doctor feeling overwhelmed but safe; he couldn’t help but kiss him. He could tell he had startled the doctor by the way his body stiffened and Will made to pull away quickly, his mind still active enough to know he had severely overstepped himself. But Hannibal had simply cupped his cheeks, checked his pupils, and felt his forehead. Will had missed the vaguely calculating look that weighed and measured his worth.

“It appears you have more physical symptoms leading me to believe this is not purely psychological,” he said. The doctor's smile was satisfied, in more ways than one.

And with those words and subsequent care, Will came to think of Hannibal as his savior. It was he who took him to get a brain scan. It was he who ensured he received treatment for the encephalitis, and he who cared for him lovingly all the while. Will was so relieved and grateful to have someone like Hannibal in his life. And he felt lucky when Hannibal asked him if he wanted to change their relationship, if Will felt the connection Hannibal felt. What more could he say but yes to both questions. For a brief amount of time, Will Graham was happy.

Will was reluctant to call Hannibal his boyfriend, thinking the term too juvenile for the doctor. When he had told Hannibal this, he had simply smiled and kissed him lightly, saying he didn’t care what Will called him as long as he could keep him. At the time, he had thought it was the most romantic thing anyone had said to him. He couldn’t help but push his boyfriend into a chair, unzip his pants, and mouth his member to hardness so he could try and give the best blow job of his life. And if Hannibal’s gasps and shaking thighs were any indication, he succeeded.

Their relationship evolved into weekly dinners to full weekends spent together. Hannibal took him to museums and the opera, and Will showed Hannibal his favorite fishing spot and how to make lures. Will had never had such a satisfying relationship. They complimented each other’s personalities and Will felt normal and finally stable. How lucky Will was to have such an amazing partner. He was even toying with the idea of selling his house to move closer, or perhaps even move in with Hannibal. He hadn’t quite brought it up, not wanting to disturb their domestic calm. But Will should have known, with crime scenes and weather patterns, there was always a calm before the storm.

He had been moving some of his clothes into a dresser Hannibal had cleared for him. His shirts and jeans didn’t fill more than 1 of the deep drawers so Will took it upon himself to move back anything that was displaced. Hannibal had been in the kitchen, finishing up a dinner to celebrate the closing of his last case. Will went to an armoire he had seen Hannibal shuffling several blankets and even a medical bag into to make room for Will. He grabbed the handles of the bag and heard an odd clinking noise. Thinking he had broken something delicate, he opened it to find about a dozen medical vials. What most disturbed him was how many were empty, nearly all of them. Will couldn’t help but pocket an empty vial and put the bag back in the armoire. He wasn’t sure what made him commit such a rash action, but he told himself if Hannibal had a drug problem he wanted to help just as much as he was helped by Hannibal. He made it to dinner and left that night, citing grading he needed to catch up on. All the while, the vial pressed cold against his thigh in his pant pocket.

When he had looked up the unfamiliar drug name, he focused on the side effects, hoping Hannibal hadn’t done too much damage to his body. What stuck out though was the warning that in high doses it could induce seizures. The amount of empty vials were more than enough to do so over several months. Dread settled deep in Will Graham, and he had an innate feeling that he was not meant for nice things.

He took careful breaths. Picking up the phone, Will called Beverly for a favor. It was a pretty big favor, but she was willing to do it if he bought her lunch.

When he got back the results on the analysis on his hair sample, Will hid the file in his bag until he could get to the men’s restroom to cry. He held in each hitching breath and bit his knuckles ‘til he had scrapped off skin. There were high amounts of the same drug preserved in the timeline of his hair growth. He didn’t know which was worse, if Hannibal had done this to get closer to him, or had only done it to see how he would react, the relationship a bonus. Will couldn’t fathom even why he would treat his encephalitis if he had been inducing seizures. Nothing made sense anymore and Will felt broken.

He quickly retreated to the last rational part of his mind. He had to get away from Hannibal. He went through the motions at work, keeping Hannibal at arm’s length by saying he was on a new case. Will was quick to close up his life, and knew the only way he would be able to keep control of it was far away from Hannibal.

 

*****

 

He told most of this to Chilton, leaving out much of the emotional weight the story had. For his part, Chilton simply nodded as he scribbled notes on a pad.

“Am I right in assuming you want to be under my care?”

Will took a moment to figure out his wording. “I do not feel safe around Hannibal. I will submit myself under your care if you could keep my being here a secret or at least keep him from coming into contact with me. You can do all the testing and gather as much data as you want for research papers. My head is here for you to pick through.”

The subsequent grin made Will know he had won. He didn’t know how long he’d be able to evade Hannibal, but he was sure that Chilton would shuffle him from hospital to hospital to keep him under lock and key. He would pit Chilton’s greed against Hannibal’s persistence and hope for the best. After all, it was better the devil you know. And few would suspect he would willing walk into one of the few places he had shown actual fear of.

 

*****

It was worse than he thought. Will went through hours of psychological assessments, hypnotherapies, and various drug cocktails to keep Chilton happy. Some days he was barely coherent; the various drugs keeping him lethargic and compliant. But he was happy, he hadn’t thought of Hannibal once since the start of his treatments.

One day, Chilton walked into the small room that was Will’s new residence with a new gleam in his eye. “A piece of equipment I had been waiting on has finally come through. Come along Mr. Graham, I have something that’s going to make you feel a lot better.”

Will was led to a room off the nursing wing. There was a chair with multiple straps to keep him restrained. He was led to it and sat resigned. There would be no good end to this. Several orderlies strapped him down before leaving. Will could only hope he made it out of this alive.

“It’s my professional opinion that you are suffering from severe depression Mr. Graham. But I have just the thing to help.” He took out electrodes and placed them along Will’s temples. “Now, usually, you would be under anesthesia for this. But with your particular drug cocktail, you could suffer ill effects. I have full faith in your ability to endure this fully conscious.”

Will was sweating. “I can’t believe you’re going to use fucking electroshock.”

Chilton smiled, “It’s called ‘electroconvulsive therapy’ now. It’s had a resurgent in popularity in treating schizophrenia and depression. You see, no one really knows why it works but it seems to restart the electrical pulses in the nervous system. The effect is similar to a small seizure and can change the chemical makeup of the brain.”

“Or you could just be giving me brain damage, drastically changing my mind.”

The doctor shrugged, “Either way, you’ll be better Mr. Graham.” He walked over to a large machine. Flipping a switch, a gentle hum filled the air. “Now then, let’s get started.”

 

*****  

Will couldn’t place how long it’d been. His moments were spent catching his breath after a shock and bracing for another one. The electrodes burned on his skin, almost like licking a battery. But when a current was allowed through, he felt a burn through his whole body, even his teeth ached. As his voltage was increased, Will found his eyes had an afterimage of white light and couldn’t focus before another jolt went through him. His mind had been his refuge for his brief duration here. But now, he was truly lost. All he felt was a burn worse than the encephalitis, and he couldn’t remember what he’d had for breakfast. Or if he had breakfast yet. His throat ached, and when he tried to cough, the subsequent burn let him know he had been screaming. He didn’t know if he had it in himself to continue, and whether that was screaming or living, he didn’t know.

At some point, Will realized the burn had left him. Bracing his muscles for the next shock, he was surprised when there wasn’t one. He still heard screaming but when he closed his mouth, he found it wasn’t his. The screams turned into a wet gurgle. Will opened his eyes. He didn’t see Chilton right away, but turned his head toward the sound. It took his mind a moment to catch up to what he was seeing.

“No, please, don’t,” were the last words Chilton spluttered out before his lungs collapsed and filled with blood. His hands were desperately grasping at the metal poles that impaled him but slipped against the blood.

Hannibal had disassembled various IV stands, splitting the poles at the joints to create short staffs. Each one he subsequently split, ended up skewering Chilton through the chest, piercing through the lungs and abdomen to the tile floor below. Some he kept together and pierced those through further to raise the body up. Chilton started convulsing when 2 were stabbed through his eyes. His body finally ceased moving, his hands falling from their tenuous hold on the poles, and his limbs curled toward the ground. The blood pool beneath him grew and grew.   

Will couldn’t fully understand what he was seeing, but some part of himself knew he had to get away from Hannibal. He tried pulling on his restraints, angry tears leaking when he couldn’t break free. A warm, soothing hand brushed back his curls, peeled off the electrodes, and wiped at the tears.

“Shh. I’m here now. Let me take care of you.”

“No! Please, just leave me alone!”

“You’re confused Will, you’ve been here for over 2 months. It took me so long to find you, and for that I’m sorry.” He cupped Will’s face and rubbed a thumb across his cheek bone. His eyes roved Will’s face, greedily taking it in.

“Please, no. I know, I know what you did.”

Hannibal’s thumb stopped moving. “And what is it you think you know Will?”

Will had to reach past the confusion to things he knew for a fact. His name was Will Graham, he was in Baltimore, Maryland, and Hannibal had drugged him for months.

“You were inducing seizures! I thought I was going crazy but it was just you!”

Hannibal sighed, “Oh Will. You of all people should know, we do crazy things for love.”

“What the fuck does that mean?”

Hannibal tapped lightly on Will’s cheek. “Language Will. You came to the place that causes you the most terror to escape me but at the same time it kept you from returning of your own volition. Chilton would never let you leave here once you gave him free reign.” He ran his hands through Will’s curls. “You knew your love was stronger than your force of will. You couldn’t trust yourself.” He leaned down and kissed Will’s forehead.

Will whimpered, “Please, just tell me…tell me why? What was the point of it all? Was I just something to pass the time? An experiment? Please.”

Hannibal took that moment to start unstrapping Will. “Perhaps when I started, I wanted to know how far I could push you until you broke. But you surprised me. Instead of an observer, I was your confidant. You came to rely on me, you trusted me, and most of all, you cared for me. We became friends and I valued you. I continued inducing seizures based on my own greed. I wanted all your regard. And when you kissed me, I knew I simply wanted you.” He finished the chest straps and moved to the wrists.

“But the encephalitis, you hinted at it that night. Did you know the whole time?”   

“My dear Will, you know the answer to that.” He moved down to the leg straps. “I knew and kept the secret close. I wanted to see how your thought patterns were effected. But as it progressed, I intended to use it to endear myself fully to you. If you saw me as a savior, no one would be able to keep you from me.” He moved to the other leg. “Here I am, because I will always come for you. And I will punish those that hurt you.”    

Will gave out a wet gasp. That’s what it came down to wasn’t it? Hannibal wanted him, and there was nothing that would stop him. But, even in trying to escape, Will only found more hurt in his extreme measures. He had thought he would be able to handle Chilton’s therapies but the only way he had truly endured was by telling himself he was safer here; safer from himself, from those that would use him to play in killers’ heads, and safe from the one that had betrayed his trust the most. But…he wasn’t safe here anymore. At some point, Chilton had grown tired with his research and his fickle attitude turned him to see how far he could push Will’s mind. He may not have been all that different from Hannibal in that regard, but at least Hannibal wanted him whole, if not molded a bit.

He turned his head as Hannibal checked the raw skin where cuffs and straps were pulled in Will’s agony. The doctor rubbed them soothingly, and tutted softly as he saw the extent of the damage. Some were bleeding and had evolved into harsh cuts with torn edges.

Will gaze finally noticed and recognized the spectacle before him. Chilton was stabbed and impaled repeatedly in a manner he knew too well. The last crime scene that Miriam Lass had seen before she had disappeared, was reflected in this. Will tried to keep his breathing calm as he looked at the suspended body, the IV stands, and the impaled eye sockets of his former keeper. This was no coincidence, nor was it anything other than a message…

His deviated attention was noted; Hannibal’s hands pausing to lay over Will’s arms, as he tilted his head to follow the empath’s gaze. There was a sharp smile on the doctor’s face as he spoke, “Chilton has turned his scrutiny to another patient I’m afraid. He appears to be grooming him to be accepted as the Chesapeake Ripper in an attempt to elevate his academic standing. After all, who would ignore the psychiatrist of a prolific serial killer?”

“That’s why his sessions have changed so drastically, he had bigger fish to fry. So then this…it wasn’t just for me then though. You came to punish Chilton. I’m just a bonus.” Will stiffened and tried to pull away from Hannibal’s pacifying touches.

Hannibal’s voice turned firm, his face finally showing a hint of anger he had expected, “I may have come here to kill Dr. Chilton, but you must understand, you had covered your tracks very well. I have had several private investigators looking for you and no one could find a trace of you. I was attempting to pressure Jack into categorizing you as a missing person. But he was convinced you were reconnecting with family and for once, wanted to do right by you and leave you be.” His voice turned softer, offering a more genuine attempt to placate, “I admit that in these past few months, I may have not been in complete control of my impulses. Hearing from Jack that there was a new break in the Chesapeake Ripper case and he was in custody may have driven me to act irrationally eager to prove otherwise.” His hands moved up from Will’s arms, stroking through his curls, catching and finger-combing through the knots.

“Yet I had a drastically different plan for our good doctor. I was going to suspend him upside down from the front of the hospital with his intestines draped like a curtain over the front doors.” Hannibal’s petting changed, he gripped tighter and tilted Will’s face to ensure eye contact. He couldn’t help but comply, eager to know why Hannibal had changed his mind. Needing to know.

“I chose to come late at night, knowing the good doctor often spent that time compiling his notes into reports. He was not in his office, but I could almost taste your scent in the air. I checked through his files and patient records and there is not a mention of your name. I was convinced my senses had betrayed me and was set on my end goal.”

Hannibal’s eyes burned bright in their rage, “I walked the halls to find him and heard something I have never wished to hear. You were screaming in agony, pleading, begging for him to stop. You were screaming for me to help you, to save you,” the grip on his hair lessened and slid into cradling the back of his head and neck, “So I did.”

The Chesapeake Ripper leaned over Will Graham and kissed him. It was soft, and coaxing, easily broken if Will were to decide to. But he felt a warmth bubble up inside, knowing that this man cared deeply enough about him to completely destroy his tormentor. He had been relentless in his pursuit and let no one stand in his way to Will. It was heady, the knowledge that his love drove such savagery.

Will’s choice wasn’t really a choice; where he belonged and wanted to be were one in the same. He finally pulled away from the kiss, tilting his head so Hannibal’s chasing lips followed the curve of his jaw, tasting and licking at his sweat.

He put one arm behind Hannibal’s neck and stroked at his nape. Will whispered, “Let’s go home.”

Hannibal responded with a shuddering sigh and left a lingering kiss to his pulse point.

They went home. Will had a few weeks left on his sabbatical after all.

 

Chapter Text

Speaking truthfully hadn’t done Will any favors. If anything, his words were used as proof of his instability. After all, how could Dr. Lecter be anything other than a renowned psychiatrist? He attended charity events, threw dinner parties, and had been trying to help Will. How cruel was it that this help was thrown back in his face.

So he had reassessed. He had nothing but time now. His cell was quiet and dim and helped center his mind on his thoughts. The only way he was going to escape this was by becoming something closer to the man that put him here. He needed to become a mirror; showing people what they wanted, what they expected, but hiding his true face behind the frame. It hurt him that the truth from his lips was discounted time and time again by those that he worked with and trusted. How could this man come in and receive such loyalty? Will was the one they had gone to look at the dark places no one wanted to go and he was the one that pulled answers out of killer’s minds. Was that why it was so easy to classify him as a killer?

So Will dug deep into his mind, he found the pieces that were Hannibal and pulled them to the forefront. He would be emotionally manipulative and amoral if that was the only way he could survive this. It may have been Hannibal’s goal the whole time.

But Hannibal would never anticipate such a perfect mirror. What would he see, Will thought. Would it be himself or the Chesapeake Ripper within Will’s mind? If the only way to defeat the devil was to become him, Will was willing to pay that price. He couldn’t help anyone while in here.

He also couldn’t hurt anyone for that matter.

So when the orderly came to collect Will for his meeting with his 2 previously precious friends he went with a plan. They needed to know how low he was brought if they were to be compliant. And Hannibal, he might just see it as the evolution he always wanted.

But Will was willing to become something he was not if he finally had a chance against the monster who hid in plain sight.

 

Chapter Text

Sometimes Will arrived at Quantico ridiculously early when he couldn’t sleep. He couldn’t sleep most of the time, and arrived so early, that the janitors had given him a master key to get into the building. He liked how quiet the academy was in the early hours. He often got a great deal done; mostly grading, but he often took the time to relook over his case files and write down any new impressions. It was peaceful and his mind felt at ease in the dark of the early morning.

His classroom had exceptional acoustics. It hadn’t started as anything other than a soft hum as he worked. It progressed to singing a few lyrics. But as he got deeper into investigations, deeper into the heads of killers that he was never fully prepared to dive into, he found the singing therapeutic. He was loath to see what Dr. Lecter would say about it however. He’d probably give off one of those small barely there smirks and ask for a performance. Yeah right Doctor.

So Will’s early mornings progressed from enjoying the silence to enjoying the solace as he sang alone. Sometimes he never got up from his desk chair, simply sitting as he graded while he cycled through his favorites. Even if as the day progressed and he was witness to the worst things he could have ever imagined, and was so forced to imagine, he had this. And it was enough.

But as the cases got worse and more frequent, he went into work exceedingly early nearly every day. If it wasn’t the nightmares, it was that fucking stag that followed him. But when he sang, he could hide the awful clopping sound of hooves in the hall, in his house, in his class, and ultimately in his head. It should have frightened him how close to insanity he was treading, but Will thought the least he could do was to do the most good with his gift before it destroyed him.

He wasn’t sure exactly when his fascination with opera started, but he could firmly say it centered on Hannibal. Will didn’t know much about the music he heard playing when he visited Hannibal’s house. Nor did he recognize any of the names of operas Hannibal mentioned when they made small talk. But Will made note of them, some inquisitive part of himself wanting to research and see what Hannibal spoke of with such reverence. There was so little that could bring emotion to Hannibal’s face, but listening to his music or speaking of his recent concerts brought a vibrancy to his features that Will could almost say was beautiful. He wanted to know what such a controlled man could devote so much attention to. So he downloaded albums, watched clips of concerts online and learned as much as he could about operas. It gave him something else to focus on besides figuring out what the hell was going on in murderous minds. It was peaceful and engaging, and perhaps that’s why Hannibal gravitated to it.

He hadn’t felt confident to sing any of the songs; but it once again progressed from him simply humming to eventually singing a few pieces. It was more difficult than simply singing a song he had heard on the radio driving in to Quantico. He found himself often out of breath or with a sore throat the rest of the day. It was probably the fact that he loved soprano parts and he was in no way even close to the vocal range. But it gave his mind something else to focus on, something to work on so he could ignore the stag that was always in the corner of his eye. So he continued, and worked up his confidence with the pieces until, once again, he found himself singing as he worked through grading papers. It was such an ingrained habit; something for his subconscious to focus on while his active mind read through reports. He felt peaceful in his own little world early in the morning. His mind was only focused on his work and singing, which kept that damn stag out of his thoughts. Perhaps that’s why he didn’t notice when he gained an audience.

Piangerò la sorte mia,

Sì crudele e tanto ria,

Finché vita in petto avrò,

He needed to take a break or he was going to start failing students. Will sat up, and turned to take his laptop out of his bag. He probably needed to stand to get the right amount of air for his favorite part anyways.

Ma poi morta d'ogn'intorno,

Il tiranno e notte e giorno.

Fatta spettro agiterò,”

He booted up his laptop and thought over his singing execution. He still felt like he couldn’t sustain the notes correctly, and he was nowhere near the proper soprano range, but he felt good about his pronunciation for once. He felt like he was getting better. His thoughts were interrupted when he heard clapping.

Will looked up startled, and saw all of his work colleagues applauding from the doorway. Jack looked reluctant to waste the time, but was begrudgingly following suit, with a small smile. Price, Zeller, and Katz were the most animated, trying to out scream each other’s “Encore!” And Alana applauded enthusiastically, looking so happy to see Will genuinely enjoy something. But Hannibal, his reaction was the one he most feared and was curious about. He took his time focusing on the doctor.

Hannibal applauded the most earnestly, not simply from obligation or in encouragement. He truly appreciated the performance, no matter how impromptu. And when Will chanced a glance at his face, he saw something he could have never predicted. There were tears in Hannibal’s eyes. Will was shocked by the previous attention from the others, but this shook him. He had never seen such an emotional response before from the psychiatrist.

He tried his best to salvage the situation, “Umm, thanks? But why are all of you here?”

That’s when Jack pushed his way through, “We have another body that might be a Ripper kill. You didn’t pick up your phone, you weren’t at your house, and we were going to issue an APB when Beverly remembered you come in early sometimes. I contacted everyone I could to get here to help search the Academy and we all arrived to find you here.”

He pulled his cell out of his coat pocket, noticing it was completely unresponsive, “My phone must have died. I’m sorry, you all must have been worried. Thanks for taking the time to look for me,” Will felt even more awkward. Everyone must have been concerned he had lost time again or had sleepwalked. Jack probably didn’t help matters making it seem like the end of the world if he didn’t see the new crime scene.

“Will you were amazing, why didn’t you say you could sing?” Alana asked as she tried to soothe the uncomfortable tension in Will.

“Yeah! That sounded like an aria and you knocked it out of the park!” Beverly chimed in.

“Okay, we can play 20 questions later. Come on Will, local PD won’t hold the scene for much longer,” Jack turned and left, assuming Will would catch up.

He quickly grabbed his bag and ran out to the hall, Price and Zeller yelling after him ridiculous songs for him to sing. Will wasn’t sure if Alana or Hannibal would join, so he offered a quick nod to them as the forensics team followed.

Hannibal’s red rimmed eyes burned into Will’s memory, the soft smile on his face as well.

 

*****

 

He didn’t see Hannibal until later that day for his appointment. Will was rather apprehensive about it, not knowing what to expect from the doctor now. He’d had to deal with the forensic team’s prodding and poking the whole day; they only backed off when Jack yelled at them to get back to work. Will wasn’t surprised when the peace didn’t last long and they started up again. It had been tiring, but nice in a strange way; he felt normal. Because that’s what coworkers did right? Joking around, laughing a bit, enough to keep a good mood up even when faced with their line of work. They even invited him to a karaoke bar that weekend, wanting to hear his voice with a few drinks in him. He said maybe, but with Beverly’s poking he was sure he’d be dragged to it. But maybe that wasn’t so bad. It was nice to feel normal for once.

Will had gotten to Hannibal’s office early and waited. But as had happened in his early mornings, he started to hum. Humming led to murmuring the lyrics to softly singing.

“It seems that your beautiful voice refuses to be contained,” Hannibal said as he leaned against the doorway to his office. He looked peaceful and content, not that placid stillness he usually displayed.

“Sorry, I get lost in my head sometimes,” Will stood and moved past Hannibal into his office, throwing his coat and bag on the chaise lounge. God, he couldn’t believe he did it again. He needed to learn to shut off his subconscious singing.

“There’s no need to get embarrassed. When one has true talent, it should be shared and appreciated for the perfection it is,” the doctor followed, closing the door.

Will sat in his usual chair, trying not to fidget, “Look, it’s just a little hobby. There’s not much more to it than that.”

Hannibal followed after him, for once, truly looking angry, “Do not think so little of yourself.”

Of course he wouldn’t let the subject go. He needed to shut this down quick, before Hannibal dug too deep and figured out what started his interest in opera. “Let’s just get this all out of the way. Ask me what you want to ask.”

Hannibal paused to gather his former composure, soothing down imagined wrinkles in his suit. “There are many thoughts running through my mind, but foremost would be centered on why you chose Piangerò la sorte mia. It’s a difficult aria for even the most accomplished soprano, and you performed it magnificently.” Hannibal moved to sit in his customary chair.

“I’m nowhere close to the range, but...” Will started to blush, “I really like the story. Giulio Cesare is such a romantic tragedy. Cleopatra is so devoted to Caesar that when she thinks he dies, all she can do is mourn their fate,” Will paused, rubbing at his cheek.

“And yet, she continues and is full of anger and hatred for those that separated them. She refuses to die peacefully, and is determined to return as a ghost to haunt those that took him from her. It’s just---a beautiful love.”

Hannibal leaned forward, “So you were drawn to the emotion conveyed through the song. Is it to the level of love or the loyalty?”

“Are you trying to psychoanalyze me based on song choice?”

“That would be foolish. Do you want to know why I was moved to such emotion when you sang?” The doctor’s eyes focused on nothing, lost in the memory, “Piangerò la sorte mia may be a piece that is well known through sopranos, but I was moved to emotion by the perfect performance of a lyric tenor. Your voice had a resonance and strength that defined it beyond its range. I felt Cleopatra’s love and I felt the anguish of her love lost.”

And holy fuck, Hannibal was tearing up again. He knew it was never a good idea to make eye contact and this just confirmed it. What did you do when your unofficial psychiatrist looked like he was about to cry? Apparently nothing in Will Graham’s case.

Hannibal turned his head toward the windows, not seeing anything besides the streetlamps lit outside. “But the truly magnificent part of your rendition was of the vengeance she would seek…Each cadence and note was felt fully. You made me want to see her avenge her lost love, I wanted her to succeed punishing those who wronged her. Because a love large enough to inspire such feelings would be spectacular.”

Will stilled, he couldn’t breathe for a moment. He was never one to see things that really weren’t there, but Hannibal Lecter couldn’t…not with him. Right?

He cleared his throat, “So the performance was more appreciated because of substance rather than execution?”

Hannibal turned from the window and caught Will’s eyes, “No. I am simply awed that one of my favorite arias could be performed by one of my most treasured friends and resonate that much deeper with me. It was a serendipitous combination.”

“I---well, thank you Hannibal.” What more could Will say?

Hannibal appeared to pull back into his professional persona, “Now then Will, I believe you had a crime scene today. Would you care to discuss your impressions?”

It was easy to slip back into their normal interactions. But for once, Will didn’t want to strive for normalcy. How strange.

 

*****

 

That Saturday night, more into Sunday morning, found Will driving when he probably shouldn’t have. He felt that pleasant buzz of beer still fuzzing his head. He told Beverly he was going to stay at a friend’s, but thought he’d be fine to drive. But driving back to Wolf Trap would take far too long. Wouldn’t a visit to Hannibal be better? He was a friend right? Maybe he could sleep it off. Another more buried part of himself felt that warmth whenever he thought of his friend spread. He needed to see Hannibal.

Will arrived quite late at Hannibal’s, and if he was still partially rationale, he would be mortified to arrive drunk at his door. Well, more buzzed than anything really. Will knew now that the forensics department knew how to fucking drink and hadn’t been satisfied until he sang all of their favorites at the karaoke bar. He knocked, and glanced back at his car, thinking if he should leave it parked in the driveway or move it back to the street. He was interrupted by Hannibal opening the door, still dressed in button up and slacks, wearing an apron.

And for some fucking reason, he looked delighted to see Will on his doorstep at early as fuck o’clock. Ugh, Will thought, the beer was making him see things that weren’t there again.

“Hey, umm, I’m sorry to intrude but I’m sort of drunk right now. Could I sleep it off? Only a few hours. But umm, if you’re busy, no, you’re busy. I’ll go, I can just call up Alana or something.” Will muttered as he finally started to see how stupid his idea had been. Fuck, Hannibal looked like he was making dinner, he probably even had someone over for dinner.

The doctor laughed, “No, I assure you Will, I am not having any friends for dinner at this time, aside from you now. Come inside, I’m pleased your first thought was of me to come to for help.” And of course, Will had said everything he had been thinking, of fucking course.

Hannibal put a guiding hand at the small of his back and guided him in. He really fucking did look pleased didn’t he?

“I-if you’re sure? I really could call up Alana or even Beverly if you’re just doing this to be polite…”

Hannibal gave a small huff, “There really is no need to go to anyone else when I am here for you dear Will. My friends are always welcome into my home. Especially those as interesting as you.” He led Will into the kitchen, and sat him down in the chair in the corner. It appeared he had been busy. There was a large amount of meat on the central island that he was preparing and packaging.

Will watched as Hannibal moved through is kitchen gracefully. He made some sweet smelling tea quickly before pouring some into a cup and handing it to Will. “This should help with any after effects from the alcohol,” he said before he returned to his original task.

“Do you need any help? I still feel bad about just showing up, I didn’t even think to call or text,” and Will really did feel guilt settle in. Maybe Hannibal was just being polite, and Will had been so rude to just show up. He sipped at his still too hot tea, just to give himself something to do. It tasted floral but almost…peppery? He didn’t have Hannibal’s palette, but it was still really good.

Hannibal continued to slice off excess fat from his pieces of…beef? It looked like beef. There were several organs placed on the counter, awaiting a similar cleaning process. Will had experience cleaning fish, it couldn’t be that much different. Right?

“That is quite kind of you to offer Will, but completely unnecessary. You are a guest, a pleasant surprise amongst my most uneventful day,” he smiled, “Perhaps one day I’ll have you help me with dinner, but for now, your company is more than enough for me.”

There was something hidden in that sentence, but Will couldn’t quite pinpoint it. Maybe it was the ‘one day’? What did Hannibal mean? He usually wasn’t so coy, usually speaking eloquently and clearly. He needed to sober up to keep up with Hannibal. Will continued drinking his tea, enjoying the warmth it provided his throat.

He enjoyed the simple silence. It was comfortable, only broken up by the sound of Hannibal’s rhythmic slicing. Will finished his tea, placing the cup rather inelegantly on the floor. He should have gotten up and washed it, but he felt so warm and comfortable. He didn’t notice, but he started humming again. Hannibal apparently did though, as his slices lost their rhythm and stopped altogether.

“Hmm? Are you okay? Why’d you stop?” Will asked as he looked toward Hannibal. He was met with a brimming anticipatory look that the doctor tried ineffectually to hide. Hannibal almost appeared, embarrassed?

“I apologize, but I may have been waiting for another impromptu performance,” he set back to his task, for once, avoiding eye contact.

“Huh, actually, how long was everyone there? God, did they hear me sing ‘Blackbird’? Ugh, I feel like I’m still in high school when I sing it…” Will was actually curious about this, no one had given him any straight answers. But Beverly may have kept asking when he had his dates with the doctor. They were appointments, for fuck sake.

Hannibal appeared to remain focused on his task, finally answering as he packaged it. “Most of us arrived at the entrance to the Academy that morning but had to wait for the doors to be opened. The night staff said they could tell you were in your classroom. None of us really knew what to make of that before we rushed to it. Alana was especially concerned that you were losing time again.”

He placed the package in his fridge, taking out a quart of milk, before gathering a liver from the counter. “And we heard echoes through the hall, a tail end of a song. I admit, I may have let my curiosity get the better of me and made sure to make it first to your class. I was surprised to only find you humming.” He poured some milk into the shallow bowl the liver was in.

“But then, you sang and it was the loveliest thing I have ever had the chance to experience. I may have had to dissuade the others from initially running in to disturb you. It would have been like ruining a painting before it had time to dry.” He put the bowl into the fridge along with the quart of milk.

Huh, maybe that’s where Beverly got it in her head that him and Hannibal had a thing.

“I’ve never actually noticed, but I guess I do hum out the melody before I actually sing,” he paused, thinking over what he just saw, “Umm, what’s with the milk?”

Hannibal chuckled, “Soaking a liver in milk milds its flavor for more delicate recipes.” He wrapped other cuts of meat in plastic before setting them in the freezer. “It was quite rude of me to make you feel uncomfortable; I apologize.”

It would be so easy for him to just move on from this bump in their otherwise lovely evening. But he had never seen Hannibal appear to be excited by anything. Perhaps he could give something back to the friend that was his paddle.

He started slow, not wanting to aggravate his throat, but confidant the tea warmed it enough. Will leaned back, and focuses on the ceiling, not wanting to dare making eye contact until he was done.

Da tempeste il legno infranto,

se poi salvo giunge in porto,

non sa più che desiar.

Così il cor tra pene e pianto,

or che trova il suo conforto,

torna l'anima a bear.”

The words flowed with ease. He wanted to complete this whole chapter they’ve opened; he sang the final aria of Cleopatra from Giulio Cesare. It was hopeful, but reflected his unease with their situation. Cleopatra may have been rescued by Caesar in Handel’s opera, but he still imbued her character with the mark of misery her life left on her. Because being broken leaves a mark, and even if you recover, you still feel it. She may have found her happiness, and compared to where she had come from, found it even more brilliant; but Will had felt such little happiness in his life, he wasn’t sure he would even recognize it.

When he finished, there was complete silence in the kitchen. Will had closed his eyes while focusing on his breathing and approximating for the soprano aria he most assuredly was not. He had never really known what he and Hannibal were. Sometimes they were unofficial doctor and patient, simply friends, and now some evolving relationship that left Will more confused than ever.  He tilted his head toward where Hannibal was last and opened his eyes.

And holy fuck, Hannibal was right beside the chair. Will hadn’t even heard him creep up. He wanted to say, ‘what, no applause?’, but the words stayed stuck when he finally focused on Hannibal’s eyes. He was actually crying, trails of tears were sliding down his cheekbones. He looked reverent and at peace; the glassiness of his eyes bringing out a deep burgundy undertone to his dark eye color. Hannibal took a moment to untie his apron to wipe at his face, giving Will a moment to figure out what the hell you say to someone you just made cry.

He decided on a safe route, his emergent courage fading back, “I just figured, you liked that opera, and umm, I hope you liked it?” Fuck, that warm comfortable feeling he had just sitting in Hannibal’s kitchen was starting to fade. He could almost hear the stag coming into the room, or maybe that was his fucking heartbeat, he couldn’t tell anymore.

“H-hey, I’ll just go to Alana’s okay?”

“No. And if you speak her name one more time, I might have to cull Dr. Bloom from my social circle.” Hannibal tossed his apron onto the now cleared counter, standing rigid.

That sounded really unnecessary. Will guessed Alana just wouldn’t get invited to all the fancy dinner parties anymore. But…how strange. Hannibal’s eyes held a barely restrained viciousness in them. He’d probably pissed him off somehow. Fuck.

“Will. Stand up,” Hannibal’s eyes looked clearer, but held that glassiness still.

He awkwardly did so, wanting to do something to dispel the weird tension that had risen up. Hannibal moved closer and gripped his shoulders tightly, “Tell me why you chose Da tempeste il legno infranto. There is a larger reason than simply you thought I would like it.”

Goddamn it, he was going to try psychoanalyzing him based on song choice again.

“It’s---why should there be any reason beyond me thinking you’d like it?”

Hannibal’s mouth took on a pinched look, “William, I would appreciate a truthful answer.”

His eyes darted away before he reluctantly responded, “Giulio Cesare was the first opera you talked to me about; how moved you were by its performance. I started researching operas after, and well, as you can tell, singing pieces. Piangerò la sorte mia reminded me of you with its sheer determination to have your way. But Da tempeste il legno infranto reminds me of myself. I’m damaged and broken, barely making it to port.”

“You forget that the experiences shaped Cleopatra, never broke her. In much the same way, you are a survivor, you need only find a new frame of reference for happiness.”

Will decided to take a chance, if it didn’t work out, he would say he was still drunk. “Would that be you Dr. Lecter?”

Hannibal smiled, “Of course dear Will. Every Cleopatra needs a Caesar.” He leaned forward those last few inches and kissed the empath. It was soft and slow, more coaxing than demanding. And Will couldn’t help but melt into it, feeling far warmer than he had while drinking earlier. Hannibal was kissing him. The stag was far from his mind.

He pulled away and chuckled, “Well, she did have Marc Anthony too.” God, he needed to learn to shut up.

“If that’s an allusion to Alana, I will cull her,” Hannibal said quite harshly. The grip on his shoulders turned firmer. And why the fuck did that sound so alluring but alarming? Will chose to focus on the alluring part, kissing along Hannibal’s jaw in placation. Alana might miss all those fancy dinner parties.

“Sorry, sorry. Just, I seem to be saying the first thing that comes to mind tonight,” which was entirely true. He pressed against Hannibal, softly humming against his ear, feeling the tension leave the doctor.

“Hey, do you want to go to your room maybe?” His boldness returned. Fortuned favored it, and all that.

Hannibal pulled away, leaving Will to feel mortified. How could he have misread this situation? Hannibal had kissed him! His eyes looked toward the doorway that must have led to the side of the house, maybe if he was quick enough, he could dart out to his car. This whole night, he felt out of depth; best just to cut his losses and run.

Cool fingertips guided his face back to look at the doctor, “That will be something we’ll build to, not something we do while you are still inebriated and came to me for aid. Come, I’ll show you the guest room.” He placed that guiding hand on his back and led him up the stairs.

Of course it’d be Will’s luck that when he finally acted impulsively, he was shut down by a gentleman. Hannibal liked opera, of fucking course he was well mannered.

 

*****  

 

Will tried sneaking out later after he’d managed a few hours of sleep. Tried being the key word. He held his shoes in hand as he crept downstairs, heading towards the foyer. Almost making it until he heard a voice call from the kitchen, “Dear Will, I hope you’re not leaving before some coffee at least. That would be quite rude.”

Ugh, it would be wouldn’t it? And Hannibal had been so kind up to the moment Will made it awkward. Slipping his shoes back on, he made his way to the kitchen.

Hannibal appeared to be just pouring a splash of milk into a cup of coffee before sliding it across the counter. Will accepted it, taking a sip of too hot coffee to delay the most awkward conversation in the world.

“I’m sorry about last night,” he mumbled into his cup, eyes everywhere but Hannibal, “For taking advantage of your hospitality and uh, misinterpreting things. Thank you for letting me spend the night, I should get going,” he took one last cursory sip before putting it back on the counter, preparing to finish running away.

“I do not think you are entirely; perhaps sorry about the way the evening ended, but that was my fault. I do not regret the end of the evening, but perhaps the way I went about it. If you are still amiable, then I would like to pursue this.”

Huh, well then, that changed…a lot. “And what would you say ‘this’ is Doctor?”

Hannibal smirked, “A romantic venture, perpetuated by your lovely singing voice and my enthusiastic overtures.”

“Alright.” What more could he say to that.

The doctor looked pleased, “Good. Perhaps, if you are not previously engaged, you could attend a charity event with me tonight?”

Even if Hannibal had slowed things down last night, this felt like it was moving fast. But looking at the hopeful look that became resigned as Will took a beat too long to answer, made up his mind.

“I’m not busy. Umm, is it really formal? Because if it is, I might need to take my suit to the dry cleaners; my dogs got into my closet again…”

Hannibal’s smirk returned, “That will not be necessary. It is a black tie event and I insist on providing you with a tuxedo. I did invite you after all.”

Will took up his coffee cup again, taking a long sip. There was no way to get out of tux shopping now that Hannibal had made up his mind. It would probably be worth it.

The doctor casually removed the now empty cup from his hand and refilled it, adding just a splash of milk, as he liked it and smiled warmly at him.

Nope, yeah, it was definitely worth it.

 

*****

 

It only took most of the day, traveling to 4 different stores before Hannibal found a tuxedo he felt was perfect for Will. The only hiccup being when he attempted to call Alana to check on his dogs. Hannibal had insisted he call a pet sitting agency a client had given high praise to. Will knew now there really would be no use to argue at this point; Alana’s continued attendance at Hannibal’s parties was at stake.

 

*****

 

The hunger relief charity event was something he never thought he would ever attend of his own volition, but was nice all the same. The concert part was especially his favorite because of the amazing singers in attendance. When Piangerò la sorte mia was performed, both of them shared a smile. He could feel himself get lost in it, much as Hannibal must have with his rendition. Needless to say, both gave a standing ovation.

It was later, in the more social aspect of the event that Will started to feel ill at ease. But Hannibal was ever present, guiding him with a comfortable hand at his back, introducing him to friends and colleagues, eager to present him as his boyfriend. Well, he might have used different terms, more like companion and partner, but the sentiment was the same. It was nice though, all of them were quite polite, most likely not wanting to be blacklisted from Hannibal’s dinner parties as well. But the conversations were light, and got easier the more champagne he drank. It felt normal. Just going out on a date with his boyfriend. Will could honestly say he never thought he would hear Hannibal say such a juvenile term.

Until they met up with his good friend Ms. Komeda.

“And who is this handsome young man Hannibal?” She said as she slinked over to them in her daring red dress and black gloves.

Hannibal gave a wide smile, nearly a smirk, “Why my dear, this is my boyfriend, Will Graham. He’s a professor at the FBI academy and is a crime scene consultant.” He cast a sidelong look at Will, the smile finally turning into a smirk when Will nearly choked on his champagne.

Really though, Will wasn’t used to being shown off. But perhaps that was normal though. He adjusted his glasses all the same in an attempt to hide his blush. By the appearance of Ms. Komeda’s answering smirk, he failed.

They quickly got on to talk about Hannibal’s ever elusive dinner parties, or lack thereof.

“It’s a dinner party, not a unicorn,” she finished with, casting a glance at Will, her smile turned sly, “If a feast must present itself, perhaps you have other appetites that are being quenched.”

Hannibal huffed out a laugh as Will attempted not to choke on his champagne again. It was a near thing.

“But perhaps instead of waiting for inspiration to strike, I should look no further than by my side. A celebration is in order, I think.” Hannibal had a thoughtful look on his face as he glanced over to Will. “Would you be amiable to a dinner party or would you perhaps wish to wait for a later time?”

Ms. Komeda’s hopeful look did hold some sway, but it was the careful way Hannibal asked, as if unsure if he was overstepping their new relationship.

He really was a pushover when it came to Hannibal anyways.

“I’d like it sooner rather than later. I’ve never actually been to one of yours before. But make sure you invite Dr. Bloom, I would never hear the end of it.” He finished off the last of his champagne before he really did choke and make a fool of himself.

Hannibal laughed as Ms. Komeda gave a rather loud cheer.

“Of course Dr. Bloom would be invited, I do so love having friends for dinner,” his smile turned sharp, showing his teeth.

They chatted a few moments more before Hannibal ushered them to the next group of friends, Will never noticing they were always a step ahead of one of Hannibal’s more eager patients and his brooding companion.

 

*****

 

The dinner party was finally held after Devon Silvestri was caught and his organ harvesting stopped. He was impressed by Hannibal’s medical expertise, always knowing he had previously been a surgeon, but never giving much thought to it. Just seeing the blood and knowing Hannibal held someone’s life in hand, literally, really got him going. Hannibal had saved a life, much like Will saved lives by catching killers, but this was more visceral and real. They ended up fucking in Hannibal’s living room, never making it to his bedroom. Hannibal had been just as eager, easily dropping the veneer of gentleman to simply a man that couldn’t get enough of his partner. Will felt wanted and was rather greedy with the attention, sometimes showing up when he knew Hannibal didn’t have patients for more of such attention.  

The revving up of the Chesapeake Ripper victims should have plagued him, but Will found himself at peace. He was finally able to leave work at Quantico with Hannibal’s urging. It was comforting to have someone to rely on. He felt grounded, and dare he say loved. Well, he should say loved by the quite lavish dinner party that was thrown in his honor. Will was fairly hopeless at all the dishes Hannibal was creating with the help of sous-chefs so opted to stay out of the way. He did however manage to bring some wine that brought a smile to Hannibal’s face.

He was sad to see Alana wasn’t present. He hadn’t heard from her, but just thought she must have gotten busy with the ripper case. Jack seemed to be relying on her insights more now that Will was pulling back from being so involved. He didn’t begrudge Jack trying to catch the Ripper, but hopefully with several different viewpoints, they’d be that much closer.

 

*****

 

“Before we begin, you must all be warned. Nothing here is vegetarian. Bon Appétit,” Hannibal smiled as he took a seat at the head of table. He was rather quick to serve Will slices of some braised heart, eagerly watching as he took a bite. Of course it was delicious, soft and succulent but not overly seasoned. It was perfect.

Will smiled as he turned to Hannibal, “I’ve never actually eaten heart, but this is delicious.”

Hannibal looked satisfied, and why shouldn’t he for being able to cook so well. “It was a rather naughty lamb I’m afraid,” that smirk returned.

Will laughed as he took another bite, “Well, Alana doesn’t know what she’s missing.”

The doctor chuckled, “Indeed, she doesn’t. But she is here with us in spirit.” He put another slice of heart on Will’s plate. How thoughtful.

Chapter Text

It was around the time of the Minnesota Shrike case that Will finally connected his empathy with something else. Elise Nichols followed him from his dreams into his waking moments, all the while still in her blood stained nightgown. She didn’t speak, but when he got closer to the Hobbs household for an interview, she disappeared quickly. As Abigail laid dying on the floor, Elise reappeared, bare feet unseen in the puddle of blood and looked into her eyes. Abigail appeared to try and speak, eyes focused on the hallucination Will was sure only he could see. Hannibal’s intervention by stopping the blood flow drew that look of recognition away. Elise Nichols disappeared as quickly as she had appeared, with a faint smirk and Abigail’s blood staining her feet.

Will was troubled. He didn’t need this new feeling of rationalization on top of all his issues. He wasn’t sure if ghosts were even possible, but it could help explain the visions. As Garret Jacob Hobbs leered at him with milky dead eyes, Will held onto the idea that he wasn’t losing his mind. The only reprieve he seemed to get was when he visited Hannibal’s office. The light always appeared brighter than the waiting room and it was enough to keep Hobbs at bay. He felt calm and the closer he got to Hannibal, the more at home he felt with him.

It would, of course, be his luck, that when something finally started to work out, that that’s when things would take a drastic turn. In this case, he started to see a small blonde girl always a few steps behind Hannibal. He appreciated it since her appearance seemed to banish Hobbs from haunting him. When the doctor sat, she stood at his elbow, when they were at crime scenes, she hid behind his pant leg. And sometimes during Will’s sessions, she crept closer to his knee than the doctor’s elbow. He wanted to speak to her, but she was always in such close proximity to Hannibal, any talk would be heard and he’d be shipped off to a hospital. Sometimes when Hannibal turned to get water or put papers on his desk, Will mouthed a quick ‘hello’ to her. She always smiled and blushed before disappearing. She always reappeared when he left, giving him a quick wave behind Hannibal’s leg. He didn’t know who she was, but liked her all the same.

When Will was almost strangled in Tobias Budge’s basement, he saw her flickering in the periphery of his vision. She was crying. He got a shot off and sent Tobias running. He took a moment to recover, until he noticed her waving to get his attention. He finally heard her speak, “Annibal.” He didn’t bother to call Jack, and headed straight to Hannibal’s office. He arrived to find two dead bodies, neither of them Hannibal’s. He saw the doctor sitting heavily in his desk chair, elbows braced on his knees and head leaning forward. When he saw her hovering around Hannibal, looking him over, Will couldn’t help but ask, “Is he alright?”

She turned to him looking anxious, “He’s hurt. Help him please!” She led him to a cabinet where the doctor kept a medical bag, and he dragged out alcohol wipes and gauze bandages. All the while, Hannibal watched silently. As Will turned to ask Hannibal where he was hurt, the doctor turned an assessing look to the agent that didn’t lose any of its depth from the blood on his face.

“Who were you speaking to when you arrived Will?”

Will startled and dropped the package of gauze he was holding. Bending to pick it up, he found her standing next to him. She spoke again, “Mischa.” He wasn’t sure if that was her name but he said it as close to the accent she had as possible.

Hannibal stilled and abruptly stood up. He lost his balance on a surely injured leg, but righted himself by holding onto his desk. In one of the coldest voices he had ever heard from the doctor, he asked, “What did you say?”

The little girl looked up at him with big eyes and he couldn’t help but shrug at her. Hannibal attempted to follow his line of sight before he returned his gaze to Will.

“I will not ask again Will.”

She blew at her bangs before she said, “Tell him. He’ll believe you.”

Will couldn’t believe he was listening to her, but he did as told. “I’ve been seeing things. Not usual hallucinations but, God, this sounds stupid. But I’ve think I’ve been seeing ghosts. They’ve been at my crime scenes and sometimes they follow me.”

Hannibal had a contemplative look as he leaned against his desk, “What makes you think these are any different from a hallucination? What has led you to think these are ‘ghosts’?”

“Abigail saw one. The victim that was put back into bed, Elise Nichols, followed me and was there when Abigail had her throat cut. They looked right at each other. Abigail’s eyes followed her and she tried to speak to her.”

“She was dying at the time. She could have been seeing anything.”

Will gave a frustrated huff and looked to the blonde girl again. She was biting at her bottom lip before she said, “Tell him about me. What I look like.”

He tried again, “I’ve been seeing this little girl. She’s blonde, can’t be older than 6. She stands beside you, and is always with you. When we go to crime scenes she stays with you even if she can’t bear to look. She doesn’t like to look. Lately, she’s spoken to me. She says her name is Mischa. Do you have any idea who she could be?”

Hannibal sat heavily back in the chair. “You wouldn’t have any idea who she was. No one knows about her. I’ve never spoken of her and there are no records of her here in North America.” He looked towards the space near his elbow. “She’s always with me?”

Will turned to look at Mischa and saw her crying. Alarmed he asked her, “What’s wrong?”

Hannibal sat up, “What’s she doing?”

“She’s crying. She started crying back when I was at the music shop and said your name. But it wasn’t as bad as this.”

Will didn’t try to touch her, but whispered to her that everything would be fine, just tell him what’s wrong, he’d fix it. Hannibal’s hands clenched.

“Tell him I hate it. I hate it when he kills. It reminds me of how they killed me. How can he eat them? They ate me!” She yelled through her sobs.

It added up easily for Will. He un-holstered his gun, pointing it at Hannibal. For his part, the doctor looked relieved.

“She told you then?”

“She said she hates it when you kill, it reminds her how she died. She can’t believe you eat them when they ate her.”

Hannibal looked stricken. He looked through the room hoping to find some glimmer of her location.

“Who is she, your first victim?”

Hannibal turned to look at Will. “Never. She was my sister. She was killed and eaten by her murderers. I took it upon myself to bring them to justice. I…suffice to say I didn’t cope well.”

“That’s an understatement.”

Hannibal laughed lightly. Before he buried his head in his hands and cried.

Will wasn’t sure exactly what he should do, but the sounds of suffering chose that for him. He holstered his gun.

He first turned to Mischa, “Your brother cared for you very much. You can see that in how he’s reacted to your death. It’s good that you stayed with him, but you have to move on if you want him to.” He had no clear plan, but he knew he had to sort this out. He’d only ever seen select ghosts. Will’s thoughts were that they stayed to find some sort of resolution; their force of will prevailing and letting their soul stay. The others had to go somewhere, and she would be better there than here.

The blonde girl wiped her face, still hiccupping softly, “But I’m scared. He’s all I have left.”

Will thought, he’d never heard Hannibal discuss family. “Well, what about your parents?”

She gave a soft gasp, “Do you think they’re waiting for me?” She looked so hopeful and every bit her young age.

“I’m sure they’ve been waiting a long time. They miss you just as much as you miss them.” He couldn’t offer assurances, but he knew they had to be somewhere if Mischa’s visible soul without a body was any indication.

Hannibal had looked up, his eyes still tearing, but he whispered out, “Jie laukia jūsų Mischa. Eiti ir aš jums rasti greičiau.”

She walked up to him, touching his hand that was braced on his knee, “Myliu, Annibal.” And then she disappeared for the last time.

“Did she...did she go?”

Will looked around the office once more, eyes glancing over the dead bodies. That brilliant warm light he always connected to Hannibal’s office was gone. “Yeah, she’s gone. She umm,” he scratched at his beard, trying to remember the pronunciation, “She went up to you and said something like,” he took his time to get the sounds right, “myliu.” He glimpsed at Hannibal, noticing he had his full attention, “She said it softly; does it mean anything?”

Hannibal’s bright laughter was unexpected. He smiled finally; the cut on his lip reopening. “She told me she loved me.”

Huh. He supposed family could forgive everything. “What did you say to her? It made her decide rather quickly.”

“I simply told her that our parents are waiting for her and I’ll join them soon.”

Will backed up, hand on his gun. “You don’t mean to kill yourself? Or are you going to provoke me to do it? I don’t think I’d survive with you haunting me.”

Hannibal laughed again, “No dear Will. But for someone already dead, time is relative. Now then, I think it’s time to call Uncle Jack before things start to look suspicious.”

Will could concede that he indeed needed to call in the deaths at the music shop and here at the office. But he didn’t know how to proceed. “Where do we go from here? We both know too much about each other’s…quirks.”

Hannibal took a piece of gauze and dabbed at his lip, “First call, and later we’ll figure this out. It’ll bring both of us into doubt if we delay this any further. We’ll have to postpone until these bodies are taken care of.”

“There are two more at the music shop too,” Will added as he called into Jack, giving just the basics. All the while, both men kept their eyes on each other, one in caution, the other in wonder.

 

*****

 

It was easy to lay out the events to match their statements; there was no real reason to doubt a member of the FBI and a doctor concerning the bizarre round of events. After giving their statements and a quick trip to the hospital to be cleared, Will found himself driving Hannibal home. His leg had required stitches and he’d have difficulty for a few days at least. The car ride was unbearably quiet, and he kept feeling Hannibal’s gaze on him.

“What? If you have something to say, just come out and say it. I’ve never seen you this quiet before.”

Hannibal shifted in his seat, “I am simply wondering how I could be so lucky as to find solace with something that has plagued me for most of my life. I want to thank you Will, and even if you turn me in, you’ll always have my highest esteem and gratitude.”

That was not what he expected. Will’s grip on the steering wheel tightened. He knew what he should do, but he couldn’t act on it. Mischa loved her brother, even when he killed, she had stayed by his side to offer comfort in the only way she could. And Hannibal; he was horribly damaged and while it didn’t excuse what he’d done, Will just couldn’t. He remembered Mischa’s shy smile, how small she was. And she had been murdered. Will couldn’t say he wouldn’t go after those that had hurt her. Maybe that opened a door Hannibal couldn’t close, but he had done it for love.

“I don’t think I can Hannibal. She---she ended up meaning a lot to me in the short amount of time I came to know her. I can’t fully understand what it would have been like to have her as a sister and lose her…but I can’t fault you.”

Hannibal sat up straighter in his seat, “Oh? And what do you propose we do then?”

Will eased his grip on the wheel, “What if we just continue as we have? Just have conversations. But, they encompass more than my work?”

“A friendship then?”

Will turned into Hannibal’s driveway, parking. “I suppose so,” He turned to Hannibal and smirked, “Now that I finally find you interesting.”

Hannibal smiled, “The feeling is mutual. Would you like to come inside? I have some prosciutto that would make for a lovely snack.” He opened the car door and eased his legs out.

Will followed suit, closing his door and going around the car to help Hannibal to his front door.

“It isn’t anyone I know, right?”

Hannibal laughed, “Just another pig, I assure you.”

“That’s not very comforting.”

The doctor opened the door and pointed Will toward the kitchen. The pair hobbled in.

“Well then, a rude pig.”

Will sighed, “That’s really no better, but let’s just agree to disagree.”

“That may be for the best,” Hannibal said, smile pulling at the cut on his lip.

 

Chapter Text

Clarice Starling could say for a fact her favorite class was criminal profiling with Will Graham.  She could appreciate his teaching style; he wasn’t overly coddling but offered so much insight and information in each lecture.  She had even started bringing a tape recorder she found in her closet to catch each word, taking time each night to listen and reorganize her notes.  He could be standoffish; some days he simply lectured at them or walked the class through a crime scene and left quickly.  But those days, she could easily forgive him.  He had to relive things through his empathy but forced himself to look for the class’s benefit.  His empathy may have been considered a tool by some, but Clarice was just thankful that he was such a thoughtful teacher.  He was brilliant, but wasn’t treated as such; which quite frankly, pissed Clarice off.  He put so much work into the course, completely restructuring the previous syllabus to fit with new psychological data.  The amount of time and effort he put into his presentations reaffirmed her thought that he cared for the new trainees and what they would have to face.  He didn’t want them as unprepared as he was.  Will Graham was most assuredly her favorite teacher.

But things started changing.  She had thought he was only a consultant sometimes, but after the Hobbs case, he was dragged out more and more.  Sometimes it was in the middle of the lecture; a determined Jack Crawford would stride in and demand Will leave immediately.  Those times reaffirmed her intense dislike for the head of the BAU.  He was a man that was used to getting his way, and if he didn’t, he used any and all means to get it.  The protests Will would give were dismissed and caused Jack to treat him worse; often saying people were dying and more would die without Will.  She hated that the most.  It was unfair and emotionally manipulative and Will fell for it every time.  And if Jack was so concerned with people dying, maybe he should actually act like the head of the Behavioral Analysis Unit for once.  How the hell had he even gotten the job if he couldn’t catch killers without Will’s help?

She knew it was petty, but she disliked Dr. Alana Bloom as well.  She would often come in with Jack to cover the class.  Clarice knew when Dr. Bloom was there when class started, they wouldn’t be seeing Will for a long time.  Some days Clarice just felt so angry at how unfair everything was.  Dr. Bloom did her best to follow Will’s syllabus, but she didn’t assign reports or essays, nor did she issue tests, simply lectured.  Perhaps she didn’t feel comfortable in the new teaching role thrust on her, but Clarice thought it was her not wanting to step on Will’s toes and seem to take over his class.  Which, frankly, was stupid.  Will wouldn’t have cared; he only cared to educate the class and prepare them.  And Clarice felt that as a psychiatrist, Dr. Bloom should see how bad all this looking was for him.  She did offer her token protests, but often her sad eyes would follow Will out the door, ultimately doing nothing.    

The days Will was there, he looked like he shouldn’t be.  He had lost weight, his hands would shake when he passed back graded essays.  But he kept coming in and teaching, knowing any minute he could be ambushed and dragged out into the field.  And such dedication to his class shook Clarice; he truly liked teaching; his notes on their papers were just as thoughtful as they had always been, he still answered emails no matter what part of the country he was in.  And the next time Jack burst in with Alana in tow, seeing the look of pain crossing Will’s face set her mind firmly.  She was going to save Will Graham.

After the lecture and Alana quickly leaving the room, Clarice stood up and walked to close the door.

“I think it’s about fucking time we all have a talk about this bullshit,” she said as she strode to Will’s desk.

“What are you on about Starling?” someone asked.

She turned and pinpointed the guy sitting in the back of the room, already packing up and looking ready to leave.  Well fuck that.

“Y’all know what I’m ‘on about’.  Professor Graham has barely been here the whole semester.  We’re following the syllabus at the bare minimum; at this rate none of us will pass our exams.”

The class started murmuring, mostly in agreement. 

Her friend Ardelia chimed in, knowing what Clarice was aiming for, “Yeah and if we don’t pass our exams, our graduations could be delayed.  This class is only offered Spring semester, we’d have to wait a whole ‘nother year!”

“Aww fuck!  Really?  Dr. Bloom might be nice to look at but her teaching is shit,” someone said from the middle.

“I know right!  She might be a good psychiatrist but half the time she looks like she wants to chase after Will.  What the fuck kind of sub is that?” said another.

The class quickly dissolved into yelling about how shitty the FBI academy ended up being, or how they were going to quit before they failed out.  Others were discussing how much they missed their professor, even if he was a crazy dog guy.

Clarice knew she had to act while everyone was fired up, “Okay!  Listen up!  We’re going to need to work on how to get Professor Graham back!  It’s not right how Jack Crawford treats him and frankly, I don’t think all this consulting is good for him either.”

“Did you see how sweaty he looked?  Dude looked like he was about to pass out,” someone from the left said.

“Fuck, I thought it was just me.  He seriously looks like he needs to stay in the hospital,” a young blonde up front replied.

The class fell into another discussion about how bad Will Graham was looking and what an asshole Crawford was.  She let this conversation continue, liking all the names and rude comparisons that were made about him.  Jack was a douche canoe.  Whatever the hell that meant; but he was one!

She finally intervened, “So look, we need ideas how to bring him back into the classroom.  We need to focus on Crawford since he’s the one that always drags him out.  It won’t be easy since he’s the head of BAU, but we need to do something.  I’m open to suggestions.”

The rabble quieted as everyone thought out possible solutions.

One guy close to the door finally started the discussion, “Well, what if we file with Department of Labor or something?  His original contract is probably just for teaching, and all these hours that Crawford makes him work aren’t in his job description and would amount to crazy overtime.  He probably doesn’t get paid for it either.”

“Ooh!  I have an aunt that works at OSHA, maybe she can start an investigation!” someone jumped in.

Clarice got excited, the Office of Safety and Health Administration might be able to help.  “Yes!  That’s perfect!  He’s just a teacher and he was only supposed to be a consultant not a field agent.  He doesn’t have the training for it and he’s almost been killed while doing something he isn’t fully trained to do.”   

“But I heard Crawford gave him a badge and gun.  That can’t be legal, he hasn’t had the complete prep for it!  Maybe we can look into that,” said someone behind her.

She turned and answered the red head, “Yeah, that could work, maybe we can look into the legality of sending someone unqualified into the field.”  

“My dad’s a lawyer, I’ll ask him about how legal any of this is.  If there’s any sort of teaching contract, that’s all Professor Graham is obligated to do right?  This is bullshit,” someone added from the side.

The class started murmuring ideas, Clarice knew they were on their way.

“Okay class, your homework, since Dr. Bloom never assigns any, is to figure out ways to help Will Graham.  Look into legal means, gather info, or even figure out where we can log complaints.  We’ll talk about what we’re going to do after next class.  I’m going to try and figure out how the hell Jack Crawford got away with this.”

Clarice smirked, knowing she was like a bloodhound chasing a scent, “Class dismissed.”

As the students filed out, Ardelia came up to Clarice holding out her bag, “Girl, you don’t know what you started.  Will Graham is going to be ordained a fucking saint when this is over.”

Clarice laughed, “He better, or we’ll fucking riot.”

Ardelia smiled, “I’ll bring the cocktails.”

“And I’ll bring the Molotov,” Clarice said as she put her bag over her shoulder.

Her friend snorted, “That doesn’t even make sense.”

“Shut up.  Anyways, we have some sleuthing to do.”  Clarice was finally feeling like she could make a difference.  She was sick of feeling helpless and knew no matter what, something was going to have to bend or break.

She only hoped it was Jack Crawford’s neck.  But she’d take what she could get.

 

*****

 

The paper trail was odd.  Odd because there was no fucking paper trail.  Clarice had been able to get into the computers in human resources during their lunch break to try and figure out Will’s employment status.  He was only listed as lecturer, and oh God, he only made $35,000 a year.  No wonder the poor guy wore the same tweed jacket all the time.  Agents made easily $60,000 and it rose with seniority.  Even if he was only a provisional agent, Clarice thought he should be compensated for it. 

Ardelia did better.  She was able to smooth talk one of the Human Resource workers and found that Jack Crawford hadn’t filed any paperwork for the initial consulting, he hadn’t for the badge and gun that were given to Will, either.  He was essentially working with a badge that had no legal backing.  He was lucky he hadn’t been prosecuted for murder after shooting Hobbs.  The only thing they could think was that no one had looked too much into it, simply taking Jack Crawford’s word at it.  Clarice shuddered to think what Freddie Lounds could do with such information.  Will wouldn’t be ‘a killer behind a badge’, just a killer in her eyes.

That one classmate with an aunt that worked at OSHA was indeed able to open an investigation, but told him it wouldn’t do much.  Since the FBI was a federal agency and Virginia had its own State OSHA office, the best she could do was file a complaint on unsafe work conditions.  But federal agencies weren’t covered by OSHA’s disciplinary reach.  She suggested they try and contact Internal Affairs.  It wasn’t much, but it was a start.  Clarice knew she would be putting herself in the line of fire, but seeing Will Graham come in each day worse than the last, steeled her resolve.  She was going to try and start an Internal Affairs investigation.

For the past few weeks though, there had been a change.  She had been seeing a tall well-dressed man accompanying Alana and Jack when they came to collect Will.  He seemed fascinated by Will’s teaching, often watching him deliver the last few sentences of his lecture before Crawford would interrupt.  She didn’t miss the slight look of irritation that passed the man’s face when this happened.  She talked with a few students and found that the man would bring lunch sometimes for their professor; it was one of the few times anyone had seen him genuinely smile.  He didn’t seem to work for the FBI but appeared to be another consultant.  She made sure to watch him closer.  What solidified her opinion on him was how Will’s eyes would always seek him out when Crawford came.  If he was there, the tension in his shoulders lessened.  Clarice knew she had found a potential ally.   

But she knew first, she had to get the ball rolling.  She didn’t let anyone else help with her filing a complaint to the Office of the Inspector General.  Just in case things went pear shaped, it would be her ass on the line.  And honestly, if anyone else was involved, she would feel guilty for ruining their possible careers.  She would take this chance simply because she would feel guilty if she did nothing.  Catch-22 and all that, but Clarice was always followed her gut, and it was leading her down this path.

She had been called for an appointment with Investigator Kade Prurnell.  Waiting in her office for her to arrive from a meeting was excruciating.  Clarice wore her best suit, which wasn’t much compared to the people she had passed on the way to the office.  She felt small and every one of her insecurities bubbled up.  What was she doing here?  She was just some redneck that had to work twice as hard to prove herself something more than white trash.  What would Ms. Prurnell see?  Some pathetic trainee spouting baseless allegations probably.  Maybe she would even be thrown out of the academy.  Or worse, what if Will lost his job?  Her thoughts spiraled into the worst she could come up with, but she tried to stay firm.  She had come here to try and save Will Graham and she was going to fucking do it.

The door to the office opened and Ms. Prurnell came in.

“Hello Ms. Starling.”

“Hello ma’am.”

Kade moved to her chair and sat, flipping through a file she had brought with her, “Now, what can the OIG help you with Starling?”

And Clarice told her everything.

 

*****

 

Kade Prurnell had been rather bewildered when Clarice had finished.  She quickly called her secretary to pull up all files of Will Graham.  Clarice didn’t want this investigation to take months; Will could die in the field before then.  She pulled her trump card as Kade went through the files on her computer.

“I’ve sought legal aid concerning Will Graham.  Not only has the FBI overstepped, they’ve completely crushed the fence.  Will Graham is a qualified teacher and is under contract as such.  Not only has he not been financially compensated for his consultations, but his elevation as a field agent hasn’t reflected in his pay either.  Plus, he is due vast amounts of per diem pay for his out of town field work.”

That got Kade Prurnell’s full attention, “Ah.  I see.  And what does Mr. Graham think about this?”

Clarice swallowed and said in a firm voice, “Will Graham doesn’t say anything.  He’s out in the field right now with a worthless badge and a boss that doesn’t care to follow the rules.  I hope you like to follow the rules Ms. Prurnell.”

A slow smile crossed Kade’s face, “I like you Starling, if FBI doesn’t work out, OIG would be glad to have you on.”  She grabbed one of her business cards and slid it toward Clarice.

She took it, “So you’ll help Will Graham?”

“Hmm, more like prosecute Jack Crawford, but same thing really.”

Both women smiled, one in victory, and one at the chance to save the FBI before it imploded.  Same thing really.

 

*****

 

Clarice knew she would have to tread carefully now.  She was certain that Kade Prurnell wouldn’t outright state her name, but she didn’t know what sort of resources Jack Crawford could have.  The class continued to work on ways to help.  One student found an older Tattle Crime article about the missing trainee Miriam Lass.  Freddie Lounds suspected Jack Crawford had been using her as a way to bypass F.B.I protocols.  After this came to light, most of the students looked ill.  Jack Crawford had a fucking body count.  Clarice was most struck by the implications and quickly forwarded the article to Kade.  It might be nothing more than gossip, but Freddie Lounds always had a way of gathering information.  If what she said was true, then Will might be put in the path of the Chesapeake Ripper and never return.

The class started to grow especially protective of Will Graham.  There admittedly wasn’t much they could do as trainees, but a lot of them documented the times and duration Jack Crawford kept Will from class.  Others took pictures on their phones of how badly Will was looking: the pale face, the baggy clothes, the constant sweating and shaking.  Clarice sent all of this off to Kade Prurnell and hoped it would help.  She sent it off to the lawyer as well.  Her classmate assured her that a case would only be filed if the OIG dropped the ball.  She held onto the idea that they had done everything they possibly could do.  It would have to be enough.

The next few days were nice.  It felt like the beginning of the semester when Will had seemed content and their class ran smoothly.  She started bringing her tape recorder again.  They had tests, and homework and no one cared because they hadn’t had this normalcy in so long.  She should have known it wouldn’t last.

It was another lecture, and yet another day that Jack Crawford strode in.  Dr. Alana Bloom lingered back with that well-dressed man as Crawford hurried Will off.  The doctor and the well-dressed man made their way to the desk in the middle of the room, Alana gathering up some notes Will had left.  They spoke in hushed voices, but Clarice could see how agitated the man appeared.  He finally gave a quick nod to Alana before he left.  She gave a sad smile and continued on Will’s topic.  Clarice knew this was probably her only chance, and quickly gathered up her bag and left quietly when Alana turned to fiddle with the projector. 

She spotted the man walking down the hallway toward the parking lot.  “Excuse me!  Sir!”  She ran to keep up with his long strides.  He paused when he heard her steps close behind.

“Yes?”   He had an accent Clarice couldn’t place, but it added to his elegance.  She started to feel that insecurity of inadequacy rise up before she shoved it down.

“Umm, sorry to bother you sir, but could I please speak to you for a moment?  Concerning Will Graham?”

He arched a brow at her, “Hmm.  Are you a student of his?”

“Yes.  Umm, that’s sort of the problem.  You see, he’s never around to teach anymore and we’re all worried about him.”

He gave a small closed mouth smile, “I see.  You and your classmates needn’t worry.  He’ll be back as soon as he finishes his current case.”  He turned to leave.

“Sir!  I honestly don’t know much about you, but I know you’re Will Graham’s friend---”

His eyes caught hers and held her attention, “Oh?  And what makes you think that?”

Clarice could feel a blush start to rise up, but she wouldn’t let it distract her, “You’re there when Crawford comes and you genuinely like to hear Will lecture.  You bring him lunch, a-and he always looks so relieved and happy when you’re there.”

The strange tension that had built eased, and the well-dressed man’s face radiated a pleasant expression, “Well, with all that evidence, I suppose we could be classified as friendly.  I am Dr. Hannibal Lecter,” he put out a hand, “and you would be?”

She clasped his hand and shook it, “Clarice Starling, sir.”

“Ms. Starling, how may I be of assistance?”

She wet her lips and cleared her throat before she told him everything the class had dug up.     

 

*****

 

To say he was angry was an understatement.  He didn’t look outright furious, but it was the small cues that made her want to take a step back.  Dr. Lecter was still, his face looked carefully disinterested, but the sharp set of his mouth made her think it was to keep from saying anything unsavory of Jack Crawford.  Both his hands were tightly clenched, and a furrow was appearing in his brow the longer the silence dragged on.  She knew she had to do something.

“We’ve done a lot though.  If Internal Affairs doesn’t come through, the lawyer will.  We’re going to help him, before he…well, before something worse happens to him.”  That didn’t seem to appease him at all, he still looked like he was brooding.  “And, well, he has you too right?  To help him?”

He appeared to return to a more normal demeanor, that same pleased expression taking place on his face, “Yes he does.  Thank you for informing me of this Ms. Starling.  Will is quite lucky to have such exemplary students.  I encourage you to continue with your task, the results would only benefit your professor.”  He gave a quick nod as he strode back down the hall, dare she say preening all the way. 

He must not have known of how highly Will held him.  Huh, she hoped she didn’t make things awkward for him.  Oh God, what if Will had a crush and didn’t want the doctor to know!  She took a deep breath and ran to the cafeteria, texting Ardelia the whole way.  She was not imagining her favorite professor and the most elegant man she had ever met together.  She was not.  Well, maybe just a little.  But not like, fully naked.  Only a little.

 

*****

 

Professor Graham did in fact return rather soon.  He didn’t look quite better, but a bit more centered, more present in the classroom rather than in his head.  She hoped talking with Dr. Lecter spurred him to help Will somehow.  Class proceeded in her favorite manner, with Will lecturing and even accepting a few questions.  She fiddled with her tape recorder, the old thing maybe finally dying.  Ardelia took it from her and worked on getting the tape to unjam.  She got all the lecture though, so that’s all that mattered.

Jack Crawford strode looking like he was going to murder someone.  He slammed the door closed, moving to the center of the room.

Will started gathering up essays to pass back, “Just give me a second Jack, then I’ll be ready---”

“Shut it.  I need to talk to your students right now, not you,” he turned his gaze to the students, apparently scrutinizing them.

The professor appeared stunned, “Jack, what’s this about?”

“This is about one of you students.  One of them has brought up an internal affairs case against me.  Agent Prurnell has me on administrative leave until the full extent of my charges can be determined.  So far, I’m up to fraud, misallocation of department funds, and workplace harassment,” he glared at the class.

“I’m sure one of you knows what else I might be facing.  This may have been fun for you, but you’re going to withdraw any evidence you’ve given to OIG or I will make it my life’s work to make your life hell.  And if not one of you comes forward, all of you will suffer.  I’ll find a way to get you all expelled, insubordination or even academic fraud.  I don’t care, but I will make all your lives hell.”

Will set his stack of papers down, “Jack, be reasonable.  Just let the investigation go forward and when they don’t find anything substantial, you’ll be reinstated, with back pay and everything.  Harassing the students will only make more charges for you to face.”

Jack stilled, turning his glare back to Will.  The professor seemed to freeze, “Oh.  God, Jack.  What did you do?  Which of it is true?”

“I did what I had to do!  You’re needed to save lives!  And you have!  Going through official channels would take too long and the Shrike was causing pandemonium.  I did what was right.  The BAU needed you now, not later.”

He turned his glare back to the class, “I did what was right.  And all you have done is caused more death.  The killers that Will doesn’t catch are on you.  You are going to be the ones to shoulder that.  And I will not ask again, which of you has been feeding information to OIG?”

“You need to leave.  I will not tolerate you speaking to my students that way.  These are all future agents and do you really want them to see a department head acting like this?  Have some professionalism.”  Will moved to open the door to the class, striding back in.

Jack started to chuckle, “You don’t get it, I won’t be head of BAU anymore if these charges aren’t dropped.  The evidence needs to be rescinded or I’m out.”

Clarice couldn’t take it anymore, “As well you should be!  And how can I rescind information when there isn’t any?  There’s no documentation of you getting clearance for Professor Graham to be a consultant, or to even be an agent.  Did you tell him how his badge is unofficial?  You just grabbed it from the store room and handed it to him?  His gun?  Or what about the pay he’s due?  You shout about how you’re saving lives and you did what you had to do, but what about the life of your best profiler?”

She could see him glaring at her, and advancing.  If all she had were her words, she would damn well use them.  “But you couldn’t file any paper work could you?  It’s unprecedented.  All agents have to go through training so they are adequately prepared for the field, but you don’t care about that.  All you want is your case completion ratio to be high.  How are you even the department head if you can’t solve your own damn cases?  How pathetic are you that you have to drag a teacher out into the field to boost your---”

“That is enough.  You will go to Agent Prurnell and the OIG and tell them you messed with the records to make your case.  You will tell her that as far as you know, Will Graham only constructs profiles, he only enters the field to look at evidence.  Am I clear?”

Feeling the brunt of his anger was intimidating, but Clarice followed her gut, and her father hadn’t raised her a fucking coward, “That’s perjury.  And it still won’t contradict what Freddie Lounds has documented!  She has pages of pictures of Will out in the field, days after initial crime scenes.  How are you going to even explain that?  I think you’re just upset that no one’s willing to take you at your word anymore.  Your word ain’t worth Jack shit, heh.”

Oh, she shouldn’t have let her mouth run off like that.  That little laugh was going to cost her.  Jack Crawford was walking up the steps to her row of seats.

“I did not just hear that.  You don’t know what you’ve set yourself up for.  I will destroy you.  There won’t be an agency that will accept you, your name will be blacklisted.  I hope you’re fully prepared to crash and burn, because that’s what I’m going to do to you.”

She stood her ground, seeing Professor Graham out the corner of her eye moving toward the stairs.

“I hope you’re fully prepared to crash and burn, because that’s what I’m going to do to you.”

Everyone stopped, looking toward Ardelia and the tape recorder she was holding, “Excuse me, Mister Crawford, but that sounds like a threat to me,” she smirked as she pushed her braids off her shoulder in a lovely hair flick.  Clarice could kiss her.

“Ooh, I like this part the best,” a student across the room held their phone out to face the room, “Going through official channels would take too long and the Shrike was causing pandemonium.  I did what was right.  The BAU needed you now, not later.”

“That sounds like an admission of guilt to me,” another said.

“No, no, I like this part the best,” another phone was held out, “This may have been fun for you, but you’re going to withdraw any evidence you’ve given to OIG or I will make it my life’s work to make your life hell.”

“Ooh, sounds like witness intimidation, better start looking for a new job.”

“Oh my God, better find a good attorney.”

“Ha, what’s that gonna do?  You’d be better off just burning the money.”

“My favorite part was when I sent the mp3 to my dad, the lawyer.”

There were loud laughs interspersed through the class.  Jack Crawford turned red, before stomping down the stairs and out the door.  Clarice felt fortunate her classmates hadn’t left her out to dry.  She had been willing to shoulder the blame, but not having to made her feel so relieved.

A few chuckles left Will Graham before he made his way back to his desk, “Alright class, I think it’s time you tell me what you’ve been working on.  Would you care to start Ms. Starling?”

Clarice finally cracked a smile, “Well you see…”

 

*****

 

Professor Graham had been slightly peeved that they had done so much in his name behind his back.  But he had seemed genuinely touched by how much his students cared, all the time and effort they made to try and save him from a job that quite possibly could have killed him.  He dismissed them, finally handing back their essays.  As the class headed out, Clarice hung back.

“Yes Ms. Starling?”

She took a moment to gather her thoughts before finally saying, “I’m happy you weren’t too mad at us, but we really were just trying to look out for you.”

He smiled as he started packing up his bag, “I know, and I do appreciate that.  But while your concerns were well founded, I would appreciate it next time if you got a second opinion before you pursued this course of action.  It was risky what you did, and we’re all lucky it worked out.”

“Well, I sort of did.  I talked to your friend Dr. Lecter and he was so angry for you.  He said to continue, that you would benefit either way.”

Clarice most certainly didn’t imagine the way his hands slipped in closing his bag.  He fumbled a bit more before he finally got it righted.  “That’s good to know, thank you Ms. Starling.  I really must get going though.  I have an appointment I need to make or I’ll be terribly rude, you know.”

He left, with a small grin on his face.  It was the one of the few smiles she’d seen lately from him.  She hoped there were more in the coming weeks.    

 

*****

 

Class hadn’t started yet, but a few students were present already.  Most had stayed put to watch Professor Graham and Dr. Lecter.  It was the first time anyone had seen them together since the whole Jack incident.  He was still being investigated, but Will had received quite a pay grade leap, as well as back pay.  He was even looking healthier, gaining back the weight he had lost and not looking as tired.  It was almost as if he had recovered from an illness and was finally healthy again. 

Both appeared relaxed in each others company.  The students were carefully taking note of their body language, it was, after all, a large component of their behavioral classes.  And really, what better way to learn than practice?

That’s what had started the whole mess to begin with.  Ardelia kept commenting on how close they were standing, how much they were laughing.  It was when Dr. Lecter casually touched their professor’s arm that set her from speculation to full blown confirmation.  In her eyes anyways.

“Look, he wants the D,” she whispered.  Hannibal’s hand moved to Will’s back as he pointing to something with the other, “Oh my God!  Look!”

Clarice had been trying to clean up her notes, “What are you on about?” She looked up, “They’re just talking.”  

“Oh my God.  Anyone can tell!  They are so banging,” Ardelia whispered to Clarice.

“S-shut up!  That’s the professor’s personal life and none of our business,” she whispered back. 

“Who do you think is on top?  I bet they switch.  Or maybe like, they give each other blow jobs and the one that doesn’t cum first gets to top!”

“What?  Shut up!” Clarice quickly glanced toward her professor.  Both were pointing to some papers, shuffling through and discussing others.  They were standing rather close, she supposed.

Then she thought back to what Ardelia had said and whispered back, “Wait, how would they give each other blow jobs at the same time?”

Ardelia rolled her eyes in an over exaggerated manner, “69, duh.  What sort of porn are you watching?”

Clarice slammed her face onto her desk, “Ugh, I hate you so much right now.”

She was met with her friend’s laugh, “No, you don’t.  I know you’re imagining them.”

Clarice felt lucky no one could see her blush, on account of her face still being in contact with the desk, “…I hate you…so much.”  And the bad thing was, she had progressed from giving a fleeting thought to the idea of the two men together to full blown fucking.  What was her life?  How awful was her best friend?

She felt Ardelia give her head a pat, “There, there.  But, umm, you might want to stay like that for a bit…umm, they’re both looking up here.”

“What!?” she whispered out, trying to covertly look through her hair towards the center of the class.

“Play cool, I got this.”

She could hear Professor Graham’s voice, “Is everything alright Ms. Mapp?  Ms. Starling?”

“Yes Professor!  Clarice just has a bit of migraine.  And she just wants to rest her eyes a bit, the lights were bothering her.”

Clarice could hear Dr. Lecter speaking, “Oh?  If that’s the case, let me dim them.”

The lights dimmed to the level they were when a presentation was given, rather conveniently hiding her blush.  She lifted her head and squeaked out a quick “Thank you!” to the doctor.  Professor Graham gave an easy smile and a quick wave before he went back to sorting through his papers.  Dr. Lecter walked back to the desk, giving her and Ardelia a barely there smirk.  Before he turned to fully face Will, he winked.

“Oh my God, they are so cute!” Ardelia whispered.

Clarice could only mumble, pushing the hair out of her eyes, “They are totally fucking.  Goddamn.”

 

Chapter Text

Hannibal was delighted.  His meticulous plans meshed quite well with his experiment concerning Miriam Lass.  Breaking her mind had been an enjoyment that he savored, but as with all beautiful things, it was fleeting.  He had crafted many innovative techniques with light therapy that, sadly, would never be published due to their questionable ethics.  But Hannibal was often a man who pursued knowledge for knowledge’s sake.  And it had become useful with treating Will Graham.  Miriam Lass had proven handy once again, even minus one arm, when her being discovered exonerated his latest experiment.  And oh, how he truly relished his latest creation.  There had been others before, those he saw as potential allies but dismissed or dispatched when they ultimately failed him.  But Will Graham had so much potential, and Hannibal wanted so very much to see it fully realized.

He hadn’t necessarily savored Will’s suffering; his distress and confusion on why no one believed or wanted to help him.  But watching him turn that helplessness and fear into rage and fury was heady.  Hannibal could appreciate people aesthetically, but seeing Will change and transform to become something as close to the man that helped imprison him, made the doctor want to bite down until he tasted Will’s blood fill his mouth.  Or grip him tight enough to leave dark molted bruises and greedily hoard each emotion and word he expressed.  He wanted to devour Will, eat messy strips of his flesh, keep him close and slice his skin to collect the red drops with his tongue.  Hannibal may have never experienced such a dichotomy of emotions, but knew the path he took was dependent on Will’s evolution, or lack thereof.  

Finding Will in his kitchen was a surprise.  Seeing him with gun in hand, killing intent shining through his fully clear gaze, made him want so very badly.  Their discussion was just as lovely as it had ever been, Will’s wit undamaged by the encephalitis.

“You never answered my question. How would killing me make you feel?”

The harsh whisper of, “Righteous” did it for him, he felt that lingering warmth he felt when he thought of Will spread.  He wanted to possess the beautiful creature of his own creation.  Dr. Frankenstein may have been appalled by his creature, but Dr. Lecter saw nothing but the jagged edges of a once terrified man finally smoothed and shaped into something deadly. 

His own actions surprised himself; he grasped the hand holding the gun.  The doctor felt the strain of muscles and the tension carried in the arm as Will tried to pull back his hand.  Hannibal couldn’t help himself when such a perfect bounty presented itself.  He held the wrist steady, gun barrel cool against his cheek.  He kissed the finger poised against the trigger, moved along to the fingers holding tightly to the gun grip, lapping and chasing after the taste of Will’s skin with his tongue.  He felt the strain of Will’s arm turn to a quivering, holding himself back or trying to hold still, Hannibal didn’t know.  He glanced up through eyelashes and saw Will’s eyes, those eyes that were no longer hidden behind unnecessary glasses, pupils blown wide.

“I have to deal with you and my feelings about you. I think it's best if I do that directly,” Will spoke in far too calm manner.  Darling boy, he’d learned so much.

“First you have to grieve for what is lost and what has changed,” Hannibal replied, easing the gun from his grip, flicking on the safety, and putting it on the counter behind him. 

“I've changed, you changed me.”

“The friendship that we had is over,” Hannibal replied, Will’s hand still held in a loose hold.

“Yes,” Will whispered, finally snapping from his rigid posture and surging against Hannibal.  He was rough in his handling, digging in and curling his fingers against the wool of the doctor’s coat, undoubtedly leaving bruises beneath the layers of his suit.  Their first kiss was not quiet or sweet, but reflected every piece of themselves that they had refused to willingly show others.  The thin skin on their lips broke, sharp teeth took from what was offered.  It is not seemingly romantic, but it was true to their relationship; an antagonistic fight for dominance over a layer of mutual respect.  For Will can do nothing but respect Hannibal now.  He may have found his actions disquieting, but the doctor played the game well and won.

Hannibal couldn’t help but press against Will’s chest, grasping hard onto the agent’s hips to bring their bodies as close as possible.  He wasn’t content though; they still were not close enough.  Clothes separated them, and Hannibal knew they were of the same mind, now they needed to seep into each other’s skin, lay down serpentine roots to ensnare and merge themselves.  There was no worse feeling than knowing he’d found his other half and cannot reconcile their pieces back together.  He nearly wept at the thought.  Luckily, Will must have had the same distress and started unzipping and pulling down layers to release their lengths.

Will took them both in hand and pumped them roughly and dry.  The added catch from his calluses and the feel of his weathered hands added a decidedly masochistic feeling to the pleasure.  Hannibal felt the urge to take and conquer rise overwhelmingly over him, but settled on moving from bloodied lips, to bite down roughly against the straining tendons of Will’s neck.  The deep shudder that passed through the empath and tightened grip on their cocks, drove him to dig his teeth in deeper, until the well of blood slid down a path along collar bones and chest.  He pulled away to lap at the torn tissue, feeling the burgeoning sense of impeding orgasm.  Will leaned his head on Hannibal’s shoulder, increasing the rhythm of his strokes.

“With all my knowledge and intuition I could never entirely predict you. I can feed the caterpillar, I can whisper through the chrysalis, but what hatches follows its own nature and is beyond me,” Hannibal murmured into the sweaty curls of too long hair.

The rhythm started to falter.  Will thumbed at the head of Hannibal’s cock, and it’s enough to send him over.  The agent follows soon after, the continued tugs nearly too much for the doctor’s spent cock.

Feeling near languid, the sharp grab to his hair, hard enough to pull back on his head and expose the line of his throat, was a surprise.  He felt a sharp burning pain as Will’s teeth latched onto his neck, digging and pulling at the skin, ripping his possession plainly visible with bruises and blood.   

He pulled away, blood dripping down his chin, “Even Steven,” Will says with a smile.  His teeth smeared with the doctor’s blood.

Hannibal can only smile back with blood stained lips, their cum drying on his stomach.

 

*****    

 

Alana Bloom was of course hurt and angry when she saw what she believed was a hickey over the collar of his shirt.  Hannibal tells her that he was deeply sorry for the mistake, but he is now seeing someone exclusively.  Do excuse his previous behavior, and couldn’t they remain friends?  She held onto her anger, but found no polite way of saying anything beyond yes, she understood.  If her demeanor was rather chilled and she took it upon herself to extricate herself from any room he was in, all the better.  It wouldn’t do for her to see all the pieces on the board. 

Will was marvelous in the field.  He spun wonderful half-truths for the team, enough that lead them to think that yes, Chilton was the Ripper after all.  He even staged the most perfect scene at the hospital director’s house.  Will made it appear as if Miriam Lass tracked Chilton down and shot him multiple times from an ill placed gun.  Afterwards, she apparently shot herself in the head, leading an end to the Chesapeake Ripper and his only living victim.  Hannibal adds his own touch with the body of Abel Gideon stashed in a wine cellar.  He is pleased with the way they already work in tandem, Will’s empathy mirroring Hannibal beautifully.  Frankenstein’s creation could only pale in comparison to Lecter’s own.

The social worker was forced to hold a hammer in his hand, even as he pled for his life, Will is quick to end it.  The coldness of the act startles Hannibal; his own hand stayed by the complete confidence Will exudes as he faced down someone he saw as lesser.  A pig.  The doctor does not hide his smile as he leads the shaken Peter Bernardone from the stables.  He is so pleased, he works with the FBI to have Peter’s charges significantly dropped in severity and he is placed in a lovely hospital for therapy.

Hannibal does admit he sent Randall Tier, a failed experiment, to Will’s house.  Perhaps as a test, but more likely, a gift.  It’s so hard to stop when you’ve finally found what you were put on this Earth to do, and Will was so new to his talent.

He supposed the body on his dining table was also a gift as well.  How thoughtful, to bring home something for dinner.  He was so pleased in fact that he licked the torn knuckles of Will’s hands.  The same hands that beat someone to death, for the only reason that he could.  Hannibal pulled him up the stairway up to his bedroom, where they shucked the clothes that kept them apart and fell onto the large bed.  Will was impatient, but the doctor took his time to lap up the blood splatter from underneath the empath’s jaw, along his neck, devouring the evidence of a savagery he stoked.

They fuck just as roughly as they had kissed in the kitchen not long ago; bruising grips and tearing teeth.  Hannibal did not lament the complete loss of his sheets to irreparable blood stains; he tucked them into a chest like he half remembered his mother’s own wedding night sheets.  The proof of loyalty and devotion stained into fabric as much as their lives had bled into each other. 

Alana makes an offhand comment that had more intent to wound than inform; that Freddie Lounds suspects Will was right after all.  That Hannibal is the Chesapeake Ripper and Will decided to join him.  Hannibal waited in the reporter’s hotel room, and quickly snapped her neck.  He fed Will small pieces of her cooked flesh as he makes dinner, testing for flavoring but mostly for the way the agent nips and bites his fingertips. 

After the latest piece, the agent comments with a smirk, “It needs a bit of spice.  I’ll slice the ginger.”

And Hannibal knew he made the right choice in companion and can want for nothing else.  Later, when Mason Verger has him suspended above his carnivorous pigs, Hannibal will know that Will is pushing and testing just as much as the doctor had.  Even Will could see what an animal the Verger heir was and his empathy leaked over into a compassion for the powerless Margot, as powerless as Will had once been.  Hannibal will look him in the eyes even as he holds a knife to his throat and know, this is love.  That twisted possessive emotion that drove him to destroy and claim had come to full fruition beneath the bone cage around his heart.  And when the doctor is cut free, at injury to his rescuer, his justice will be swift.  He will give Will something back just as lovely as their previous gifts, but more so when he leaves Mason alive.  Hannibal’s compassion is as much a gift to Margot as it is to Will. 

Because without the Vergers, how else would he have pushed Will to choose a side and stand for it?  Will chose Hannibal and that’s all that mattered.  Even later when they plan to leave the country, and Jack lays bleeding in his wine cellar, Hannibal will know.  He will know when Alana Bloom shows up and points her gun at a bloodied Hannibal and Will quietly creeps behind her and slits her throat.  He will know that Will chose him and perhaps feels the same burning need to possess Hannibal as much as Hannibal needs to possess Will.

They will look at each other and finally see.  There need be no one else, because they are all that matter.  Dr. Frankenstein found himself in an endless chase, pursuing his creation; fixated on undoing his mistake.  Dr. Lecter will lead a merry chase with his creation.  They will escape and have the loveliest time along the way because they have what they always needed but never thought they could have.  Because Hannibal made their pieces finally fit together.   

 

Chapter Text

Hannibal knew something was off the moment his mind roused from sleeping to waking.  His bed felt far different.   Even his clothes felt strange and scratchy; there was certainly something amiss.  When he opened his eyes, he found not the typical ceiling he was used to, but something darker and more concave, a dim thought ran into his conscious thought; this atmosphere seemed familiar.  He sat up and took in the small cell.  Twisting his legs to the side, finally resting them on the concrete floor, Hannibal was met with the sight of a lone sink. 

A quick glance to his hands showed the fine, delicate surgeon’s hands were replaced with hands that he knew just as well.  Hands that could do the delicate work of tying a lure to dismantling a boat motor.  These were Will’s work-worn hands.  And they were Hannibal’s now.

There was nothing he could do beyond waiting.  The trap he had set for Will now entrapped him.  The only thing Hannibal wanted to know was, how had he gotten here?

 

*****

 

Hannibal only had to wait until midday for his quiet to be disturbed.  Chilton arrived with several orderlies to escort him to the hospital’s conference room.  As it was the only room not expressly monitored because of attorney-client privilege, Hannibal had high hopes to actually discussing his predicament without adding complete delusion to Will’s psychological profile.  He had high hopes that it was Will arriving to meet him.

It was strange being led into the room, being chained to the table, all the while staring into a face he was familiar with since he was born.  Will had found his way into his closet and looked every bit as put together as Hannibal had; suit impeccable and matching tie twisted into a double-windsor knot. 

“Thank you gentleman,” Will said using Hannibal’s voice.  The accent and cadence as familiar to Hannibal as the easy way Will moved in his body, mirroring the doctor’s grace perfectly.

As they were both left in the room, Hannibal took in Will’s appraising eyes, the look in them not quite the careful detached interest he was careful to display, but more of bemusement.

“I see you’re enjoying our change in circumstance,” Hannibal said in Will’s voice.  The same intonation and inflection he was so used to hearing, now producing.

Will allowed a quick smirk to cross his face.  The open expression strange to Hannibal when viewing his own face as an observer.

“Well, you can’t deny the irony.  How’s prison treating you?  Have you tried the food?  I had the best cup of coffee today and it was from a drive-thru at McDonald’s.  Do you even realize the looks I got?  A Bentley at fucking McDonald’s.”  He gave a small laugh, “I’m afraid your reputation may be taking a bit of a hit Doctor.”    

Hannibal gave a very put upon sigh, “Yes, but I do believe we should focus on the matter at hand.  Specifically, how this happened and how to undo it.”

Will loomed closer, finally allowing some of the rage he harbored to leak out, “No, you see, I think the matter at hand is to get me out of that fucking cell and clear my name.  I don’t give a shit how this happened, I’m happy I’m out, one way or another.  You could rot in here for all I care.  So if you want out, you’re going to have to help yourself.  Or, I should say, help the body of Will Graham get out.”

He should have expected that.  “I see.  So you would have me get your body out, we find a way to undo this, and then you put me back in here?  As Hannibal Lecter in mind and body?”

Will sat back in an easeful slouch that still looked dignified in Hannibal’s body.  “One thing at a time Doctor.  First thing on the agenda is getting Will Graham acquitted, unless you want to suffer through a trial while we try and resolve this?”

He wanted to argue, but even Hannibal could see the truth in the statement.  They wouldn’t be able to meet like this frequently, especially when the trial started, without much suspicion from Chilton.  All his work would have to be undone.  But in the end, he supposed he did succeed.  He changed Will into a mirror of himself.

Although, he wasn’t hoping it would be quite so literal.

“You’re going to have to provide evidence that Will Graham is not the Copycat.  To do so, you’re going to have to kill someone.”

That made Will sit up once again, “Why?  Can’t I just…fuck.  It was mostly circumstantial evidence, but you made sure it was damning.”

Hannibal simply nodded, “There is someone you could kill that would fully dissipate any doubts of Will Graham’s innocence.  Someone I have kept close.”

The quick look of fear looked so out of place on the doctor’s actual face.  He would have to work on that with Will when he got out.  His prime objective to change Will would have to be handled rather differently.  Perhaps this task would speed it up.

“In my basement, further down than a simple cellar, I have a room I handle my activities with discretion.  There is someone there that you are going to have to kill to get your body out from Chilton’s care.”

“W-who?”

“Abigail Hobbs.”

“No.  You fucking killed her and stuffed her ear down my throat.”

Hannibal adopted the easy body language Will had sported earlier; his movements slightly hindered by the cuffs.  “Abigail has been in my care.  She has times where she is near catatonic.  She has become very dependent on me and I fear that she will never be able to function self-sufficiently again.”   

Will leaned forward menacingly, Hannibal’s typically styled fringe falling forward into his eyes.  “And whose fault is that?  Who fucking ruined her life and sliced her ear off?  You’ve fucking destroyed her.”

Hannibal leaned forward, elbows braced on the steel table, “Some things are broken and become something greater, others remain shattered, desperate things.  Will you force her to live her half-life?  Her spirit is broken and the Abigail you and I know is already dead.  Won’t you help send her off so she can finally have peace?”

Will’s eyes filled with tears, the familiar brown irises Hannibal knew from every time he looked in a mirror.  “She trusted us to care for her; we’re no better than her own father.”

“We’re better.  He couldn’t end her suffering, won’t you Will?  What do you think would happen if she reappeared?  Jack already connected that she helped her father; she would face charges.  And now that she returns after being presumed dead?  Freddie Lounds would dig into her and pull blood from the stone.  She would become a spectacle and never be free.  Won’t you give her peace?”

Will stood abruptly, taking the time to button up his suit jacket.  “Thank you very much for indulging me Mr. Graham,” he said as he strode out.  He didn’t look back.

Hannibal waited, already knowing the orderlies would come back to shuffle him back to his cell.  He knew all he could do now was wait.  Everything was left in Will’s hands.

Rather fortuitous that they were Hannibal’s own hands.  He trusted them under Will’s care.

 

*****

 

 He slept on the awful cot.  There wasn’t much else to do in the cell.  Hannibal knew something was different though, when he woke up standing, covered in blood.  Abigail was gasping for air.  Her throat was slit in a most familiar manner.  She gasped and tried to hold at the cut, but the blood flow was already slowing, her skin paling, and the puddle of blood beneath her growing.  Taking in his surroundings, he was dressed casually, but his white button up was a loss.  The knife he held was one he recognized from his kitchen.  He was outside of the psychiatric facility she had last stayed at, close to the entrance, but far enough away to not be in view of the surveillance cameras.  Hannibal was rather impressed by the care Will had taken to selecting somewhere she would be found and identified quickly.  Stepping away, he noted Abigail’s faint twitching and large blue eyes gazing off toward the dark night sky.

Now, he only had to find his car.  He walked down the sidewalk, car fob in hand.

 

*****

 

Hannibal did not have to wait long.  He received a call from Jack early in the morning telling him of Abigail’s fate.  He sounded strangely joyful in explaining that Will was being released, all charges dropped.  Apparently, there were several lures found on Abigail that matched the ones that were found at Will’s, proving they were planted after all.  The rough idea was that Abigail had been working with the true Copycat back in Minnesota and continued to work with him in Baltimore, ultimately framing the one person that had the biggest chance of catching them.  The relationship must have soured, perhaps she had been returning to the closest place for help, before she was killed.  Hannibal volunteered to pick Will up, Jack did have so much work to do now, why not let Will’s friend pick him up?  It was a quickly approved plan.

He met Will at the front steps of the hospital, glasses firmly in place, hair just as unruly.  The empath was rather subdued and only started speaking when they had been driving for some time.

“Are we going to my house or yours?”

Hannibal replied, “Mine.  Your dogs are fine and still under Alana’s care.  We have much to discuss and I think you could appreciate my meals now, after the food you received under Chilton’s care.”

He heard a distressed laugh, “Well, now I appreciate it more because I know it’s fucking long pig.”

“Everything has a cost in this life.  Sometimes our only reprieve is in knowing what we’re paying and weighing its worth.  Was your freedom worth Abigail’s death?  Was her death on your conscious worth knowing you freed her from this cruel world?”

Will was quiet for a moment.  “S-she wasn’t the same.  I thought you were exaggerating, but as soon as she saw your face, all I could see was the terror and false smile she used to placate you.  But she was vacant, she didn’t care about anything anymore.  Even when I offered to let her go to the police or take her to Alana’s, she was just quiet, waiting for me to tell her what to do.”

His voice started to crack, tears held at bay, “And when I took her to the hospital, I thought she would run to the doors, snap out of it when she saw she had a chance.  But she just waited.  Even when I brought out the knife, she came to me, eyes still full of terror but so obedient.  Her whole life she’s been afraid, I just wanted her to rest finally.”

Hannibal knew how hard it must have been for Will to do such a thing, but the fact that he did it anyways brought a rush of affection for the man.  All his work and machinations to fashion Will into a killer, and all it took was to appeal to his compassionate side.  How lovely.

“‘Pearls before swine’.  I spared her for you, but she did not appreciate the gift of life I gave her.  Instead, she failed to flourish.  By taking back what was offered, you rectified my mistake and helped yourself at the same time.”

“Of course you would compare her to a pig.  She only had enough worth to keep her alive if I held her in high esteem.  That Abigail wasn’t who she used to be…some scared creature too terrorized to act on her own.  I won’t ever forgive that you did that to her.”

“Can you forgive yourself for killing her?”

“No.”

Hannibal’s grip on the steering wheel tightened minutely, “You should keep in mind that you freed her from her pain, you absolved her guilt.  All the deaths she helped her father with weighed on her.  All those girls would have lived if she had simply let her father kill her.”

Will turned, “You can’t expect her to want to let her father kill her!  She survived however she could.  She shouldn’t have felt guilty over trying to live.”

The doctor smiled, “As you shouldn’t dear Will.  Killing her freed you from my machinations.  You survived me.”

Will looked stunned.  He turned back to look back out the window, the rest of the ride home silent.

 

*****

 

Will sat in the armchair in the kitchen, silently watching Hannibal make a quick lunch.  He rolled out his pastry dough before pressing it into a quiche pan.  He took out a flank piece of a rather rude tailor to use as ham.  He diced the meat, mixing it with milk, eggs, and shredded cheese, before pouring it into the pastry shell.  Putting the ham and cheese quiche in the oven, he turned to Will as he started to clean the counters.

“Have your thoughts been tasty Will?”

He still looked lost, but clarity returned as he spoke, “Why do you think we seemed to switch bodies in the first place.  Or are you going to try and play it off like another hallucination?”

“It was no hallucination.  I will always remember the darkness of that cell, the cuffs binding me to a stainless steel table.  A reminder of somewhere I wish to never end up.”

Hannibal finished wiping down his chopping block before he added, “As to the why it occurred, I believe that may have had to do with me.  I saw a potential in you for a companion, and desperately wanted to accelerate your evolution.  When you finally killed willingly, perhaps that was the resolution we needed to end this.”

Will took off his glasses and tucked them into his jacket pocket.  “But we haven’t ended this.  I’ve changed, you changed me.  And that’s all you wanted.  I think you’ve come out the most ahead Doctor.  How does it feel to win?”

“I’ve not won anything yet Will.  I’m sure that to win your favor, I’ll have to persuade you to my suit.”

A soft laugh escaped Will, “A courtship?”

Hannibal allowed a small, truly genuine smile to cross his face, “You deserve nothing less.”

“You’re fostering co-dependency.  You don’t want me to have anything in my life that isn’t you.” 

“I only want what’s best for you.  What more would you need?  Someone that sees you with clear eyes and accepts every aspect of you.  I don’t fear you, use you, nor do I wish for you to be anything other than the full rise of your potential.  One could even say recently you’ve applied yourself to my perspective.  As I've applied myself to yours.”

Will looked away for a moment, taking in the large house with only one resident.  Perhaps even remembering the day he was Dr. Hannibal Lecter in body.  “You’re as alone as I am, and we’re both alone without each other.”

He returned his gaze to the doctor and held it; Will still seated in the chair, and Hannibal standing by the chopping block.

The soft beeping of a timer going off sent Hannibal off to pull the quiche out, setting it on a counter to cool.  Looking up, he finally allowed his careful façade to drop; the person suit not needed among someone that truly saw him.      

“Stay with me for lunch.”  Both knew the question was far more than that.

Will smiled softly, rising from the chair and striding to Hannibal’s side.  “Where else would I go?”

 

Chapter Text

He liked his job; he liked helping people.  Maybe he didn’t necessarily like interacting with them, but feeling useful and like he was making a difference helped him work through it.  He had been thinking of a change though, maybe something more.  He wasn’t sure what exactly.  His dad had wanted him to be a lawyer after he got his criminal justice degree, but he still felt compelled to enter the police academy.  It felt right to him at the time, something more hands on, making a visible difference.  Nowadays, with a few years under his belt, it felt constricting and limiting.  There was so much work he could be doing, good work.  Perhaps moving up to Detective?  Or maybe after a few more years, government?  But for now, he still felt like there was a lot he could still do for the force.

But career decisions weren’t anything he could focus on right now.  There were thousands of tourists starting to spill into the city.  Mardi Gras was only a few days away, and already, huge crowds were starting to form and spilled out into the streets at night.  Most of the force were working long overtime hours on patrol.  Officer Will Graham was of no exception.  He threaded through the streets, paying particular attention to side alleys and outside of bars.  Already he’d cited several people for public intoxication and public indecency.  He knew the closer it got to Mardi Gras, the worse it would get.  He didn’t look forward to trudging through confetti and streamers coated with vomit.  The streets got power washed on Ash Wednesday which helped the city’s reputation; gritty, not dirty.

He tried to keep his rounds near the local hotels, especially the higher class ones.  Locals with an eye on money often hung around, hoping to find an easy mark.  Will had mostly only had to shoo off a few prostitutes, the more persistent ones taken to be booked for solicitation.  The few muggings he’d stopped had ended rather safety, much to the ease of those almost being robbed and the local businesses.   He had more than a few hotel managers shake his hand.  The day had been long, and he really could really use something to take his mind off the college kids binge drinking and flashing him.  Youth, something he was glad he was over with.

After his shift, he ended up at one of the higher class hotel bars, the late hour perhaps one of the only reasons he didn’t end up back at the dive bars near his apartment.  Those bars would be packed with college kids wanting to get a more authentic experience while saving some cash.  And he frankly had enough of dealing with that.  He blended in easy at the bar; he was a plain clothes officer for the rest of the week.  It felt good to relax and just sit in a relatively quiet place, the bar nearly empty.  The bartender gave him a friendly nod before taking his order.   

Will settled on Fireball Whiskey, if only for the fact that he wanted the burn from the cinnamon infusion.  He asked for the bottle, knowing he’d need the help sleeping.  His insomnia was flaring up again.  He felt content to drink his whiskey and watch the fish in the aquarium in the center of the circular bar.  They were the expensive salt water fish with bright colors and real coral in their tank, expected for such a fancy hotel.

“I have always found aquariums to be fascinating.  That even in an enclosed space with not even fish of their own species, they’ll thrive.”  An accented voice commented from his right. 

Glancing over, Will saw a taller man with sandy blonde hair dressed in a grey suit sitting on the bar stool next to him.  He oozed sophistication and wealth, something Will never felt comfortable with.

“I suppose it might be an adaptive ability; hold overs from natural behaviors.  They all live on coral reefs perfectly content with sharing the space, why wouldn’t they in an aquarium?”

The blonde man took a sip of his drink.  “Then you subscribe to the idea that biology and instincts dictate behavior?”

“Are we getting into a nature versus nurture debate?  Because if so, I’ll need to drink more.”  Will refilled his glass before taking a generous gulp.  “I think people are more complex than either can explain separately, but as a combination of influences, I think biology and environment offer the full brunt of what it is to be human.  We make our choices consciously based on the sort of person we are.  But how are we shaped?  Our personality is fairly unique in of itself and our family environment shapes our perceptions and how we approach conflict-resolution.”

The man gave his full undivided attention to Will, a slight look of astonishment on his face.  Will knew the look.  Some hotshot thinking all Southerners were uneducated hicks.  The whole conversation had been veered in a way to unsettle the average person and assert his intellectual superiority.  Fuck that.

In fact, “Barman, une Bande Rouge bière, s'il vous plait.”

A tall beer stein was placed in front of him, Red Stripe, a Jamaican pale lager.  One that he bought all the time if only because he liked the shape of the bottles.

“Vous parlez français?” the man seemed to ask, still rather astonished.

“You’re in New Orleans, I think it would be expected.  Laissez les bons temps rouler and all that.”  He sipped at his beer, enjoying the light foam.

The man gave an indifferent sniff, “The only French I’ve heard has been tourists yelling about Mardi Gras and having no concept of what it means.”

“They’re kids, what do they know?  They’re going to binge drink and blackout, and when their week is over, head back to school to repeat every weekend.  There’s no care given to the spirit of the holiday; to indulge to make abstaining easier.”

“And are you indulging to abstain?”

Will laughed, “I never indulge, what use would abstaining be?  Everything in moderation.”  He drank his beer, already starting to feel that loose feeling of intoxication.

The man smiled, “A man of similar thoughts to myself.  But isn’t a momentary indulgence just as satisfying as momentarily abstaining?  The anticipation is---invigorating in both.”  He finished off his drink and set the glass on the counter.

Will turned to look, and no, he wasn’t that fucking drunk to be seeing things.  But it seemed like the well-dressed man was interested in him, and not just for his conversational skills based on the lingering glances he was giving.  Will looked through his eyelashes, his fingers sliding along the condensation on his beer.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

The police officer took the bottle of Fireball and poured it into the empty glass in front of that well-dressed man.  “And what drives a momentary indulgence?  Why, the largest component in humanity: curiosity.”

That man had that look about him again, but was now some astonishment mixed with wonder.  “And are you driven by curiosity?  Do you find it a supreme motivator?”

“Not the supreme motivator, I’ll leave that attribute to doctors and scientists.  But for me, curiosity is one of the hold-overs from childhood, trying to understand things and see how they work.  Learning and observing, there is so much to see in this world, why wouldn’t I indulge it?”

“Hmm.  A simple pursuit of knowledge for knowledge’s sake?”

“Why not?” Will chuckled, “Sometimes it’s fun just to see what happens.” 

The well-dressed man with the beautiful accent finally graced Will with a true smile, the first genuine one he’d seen all night.  “It does make life more satisfying; seeing possibilities come to fruition.”

And Will couldn’t help but try and get the ball rolling.  “Perhaps it’s time for you to indulge in something you wouldn’t typically be interested in.”

“Not my typical habit, indulging,” the man took up his glass and sipped at the cinnamon whiskey, keeping his strange burgundy eyes on him the whole time.  “But if one comes across something worthy of indulgence, they are a fool not to act.”

And Will finished off his beer, and felt daring.  He leaned close enough to whisper into the man’s ear, “Oh darlin’ won’t you indulge me?”

The man sat up straighter but quickly got the attention of the bartender, “Put all of this on my room tab.”  When he got a nod is response he turned back to Will; a look of hunger on his face. 

“Lead the way mon chéri.” Will said as he stood from the barstool.

The walk to the room wasn’t even awkward.  Will had expected the elevator ride to at least be strange, but both men simply seemed content with the other’s presence.

The room was a fucking suite, of course.  This man in his custom suit and lovely accent, he couldn’t come from anywhere besides money.  Half of Will was pissed off he even went up, thinking this must be an everyday thing for the well-dressed man; pick up whatever catches his fancy and use them before he left town.

The man came up to him and gently ran his fingers along his face, edging along the jawline, before carefully cupping his cheeks to bring him into a kiss, something strangely soft and gentle.  Will knew at that moment he would go through with this, whatever it was, if only to be held for a moment as if he was something precious.  His own arms came up, hands resting at the hips and clenched the fine material of the man’s suit jacket.  The officer could feel those hands moving down his chest, almost coming to reach his belt.  Will took the initiative to kick his shoes off and shuck his pants off quickly, for the moment, not wanting this man to know anything about him.  And his gun that was strapped to his belt, hidden by his jacket and shirt would most assuredly tell him something.  He was quick to take his jacket off and add it to the pile, not wanting his badge to be found either.  For tonight, he just wanted to be a man from a bar, not a police officer looking to be less lonely for the night.

The gentle kissing stopped for a moment.  “Eager?  Abstaining does make the indulgence that much sweeter,” he started unbuttoning Will’s shirt and slipping it down, kissing along his shoulder.

Will kicked off his socks, standing only in his boxers.  “Maybe.  Or maybe I just want to see if you were worth indulging in.”

That seemed to spur him on, the well-dressed man slipped off his tie and undid his waist coat, tossing both away carelessly.  “You should be careful with your curiosity.”  He unbuttoned his shirt as Will made his way to the bed and sat on the edge.

“But how would we learn anything or prove our own hypotheses without curiosity?  What is life without intellectual pursuit?  It’s like life without good food; alive but not living.”

The well-dressed man had that soft look about him like he couldn’t believe Will was real.  He unbuckled his belt and left his trousers loose on his hips, kicking off his shoes.  “The feast is life.  You put the life in your belly and you live.”

Will was still feeling wonderfully warm from his drinks and from having someone that found him worthy of momentary pursuit, fell back on the bed, enjoying the high thread count of the turned down bed.  “We eat something that lived to live ourselves, we learn something and can never fall back to ignorance.  There’s always a price, isn’t there?”

That truly genuine smile had returned to the well-dressed man’s face and the strange intensity of affection made Will turn and face the ceiling.  Even if he knew what this was, it felt so odd to want more than tonight.  What would it have been like if they had met and gradually gotten to know each other rather than one night of philosophy?  Would he have met this man for lunch and enjoyed the gentle ribbing from his coworkers about his fancy boyfriend?  Would they be a couple that went out or stayed in?  A onetime thing, that’s all this was.  This man would go on with his life without looking back, and Will was just going to have to do the same.

He heard more rustling of clothing and finally felt the bed dip.  That well-dressed man was not dressed at all anymore.  He laid on his side, eyes burning a bright burgundy; running his fingers as a gentle touch along Will’s stomach, kissing along his collar bone and up his neck.  His lips met the shell of the officer’s ear and whispered, “The reward is sometimes worth the price, the indulgence worth all that time abstaining.”

“Yes,” for what else could Will say?  He leaned forward and kissed that sophisticated man, finally giving in and tangling his fingers in that perfectly styled ash blonde hair.  Will brought a leg up, curling along the man’s thigh, his boxers resting against a hip. 

Will pulled away, “Do you have lube?”  He kissed up along the man’s check, feeling the faint scratch of stubble from a 5 o’clock shadow.  He felt the man stiffen, the first moment of actual awkwardness in the evening.

“No.  I---as I said, I do not typically indulge.  I don’t even have condoms.”  He rested a hand on Will’s thigh and started to push him away, “I’ll go down to the concierge for directions to a pharmacy.”

Will nearly sighed.  Of course.  Nothing ever did work out easily for him.  But maybe he could offer a bit of assistance.  He moved out from under his elegant man and walked to his abandoned jacket, being careful to only pull out his wallet and not his badge.  He had one condom he had pocketed from a health center that was handing them out to tourists; not that he had actually thought he would have needed it, but it felt good to at least pretend he could.  And now, for once, he didn’t have to pretend.

“I only have the one so you better make it count,” he held up the square foil pack, the rubber ring impression catching the low light.

That man laughed, his eyes lit with mirth as he stood.  “There is lotion in the bathroom that we could use,” he said as he left the suite for the bathroom and returned with a small bottle.

Will slipped off his boxers, adding them to his already large clothing pile.

“Then let’s see where the night leads us,” he replied.

 

*****  

        

Will hadn’t expected the intensity, the hard grip on his shoulders as he was nearly bent in half.  His knees were thrown over that elegant man’s broad shoulders, his own hands scratching against neck and scalp.  He was sweating, he nearly felt like he couldn’t get enough air; his breath being consumed by that man and the crushing kiss he wouldn’t relent from.  Already Will could feel the bruising on his lips, his hips and back of his thighs.  He would have to take an aspirin in the morning for sure; his back feeling tense from trying to rock back into the hard thrusts of his companion.  But it felt so good, and this man knew nothing about his social awkwardness or his nearly obsessive drive with his cases, he was simply a man.

That elegant man wasn’t looking quite as elegant with sweat matting his fringe, his face flush with exertion.  He finally relented his nearly crushing intensity to pull back and brought Will’s legs down to wrap around his hips.  He laid over Will, chest hair rubbing against his sweat-slicked torso.  The officer finally felt like he could take a breath, a lot of good that did when near 200 pounds of surprisingly fit male was draped over him, and continuing to thrust.  But his motions had slowed, nearing practically to a gentle rocking motion before he gave one of the most satisfied sighs Will had ever heard, before stilling.  He didn’t roll off like Will expected, but laid there, rubbing his knuckles along Will’s cheekbone and staring into his eyes with those strange burgundy eyes.

“Y-you might want to take the condom off before you go down too much or we’ll just have a mess on our hands.”  Will couldn’t help but break the moment that was strangely more intimate than the sex.

All he received was a soft smile as the man pulled out, pulled off the condom and tied it off, before throwing it aside, burgundy eyes never leaving Will’s.  Until they did.  He slid his body down and engulfed Will’s cock in his mouth, holding the ridges of his hips for balance.  It didn’t take long for Will to finally cum, his pulling on the elegant man’s hair and trying to pull away only led to being held tighter.  He came with a deep moan, feeling greedy lips and tongue sucking ever harder, drawing it out until he felt almost too sensitive.  He finally managed to pull the man away; his smile showing the self-satisfaction he took from the act.  That man slid back up the bed, cradled Will’s head, combing through the soft curls, before he kissed him softly once again.

“Stay the night,” he whispered.

And what more could Will do but comply?  Especially as he was turned and held so tightly, as if he was something precious, kissed as if he was something more than a random man picked up from a bar.  He fell asleep to lazy kisses along his forehead and soft whispers in a language he didn’t recognize, but he held on to all the same.  Sometimes, it was nice to pretend he could have nice things.  

  

*****

 

As far as one-night stands went, Will would look back at that night with a faint amount of mirth and slight melancholy.  And it wasn’t that he didn’t know what he had gotten himself into, but he still couldn’t help but think back and wonder all the possibilities.  What if he had stayed and they had woken up together?  He could have walked them over to a Café du Monde and introduced his well-dressed man to beignets, those deep fried little pillows of pastry.  Will might have even learned his well-dressed man’s name.  But none of that did happen.

Instead, Will peeled himself away from those warm arms, wiped off the excess lotion on his thighs with the edge of a sheet, and got dressed quickly.  His own internal clock had woken him up ungodly early; he had to go in for his regular shift.  He did cast one last look at the rumpled bed and that elegant man, that while somewhat arrogant, had a fantastic mind and lovely body, and left.  He had indulged finally he supposed, never really one for one-night stands or acting so spontaneous.  That elegant man had gotten what he wanted and Will just wanted to head in to work to take a shower in the locker rooms.  He was sure that man would reconsider his views and think the South wasn’t as backward as he thought.  But he would never think on the man he picked up in a bar for any other reason than he made a night in New Orleans not so boring.  Will was sure with such a man, he was nothing more than a blip in a long line of conquests and would be forgotten soon enough.

 

*****

 

Years later, after Will had made Detective, had been stabbed by a mugger and finally decided to go on to the FBI, he never gave more than a passing thought to that night.  Sometimes though, when he did see a business man in a particularly lovely suit, he would take time to give a second glance.  He told himself he was just admiring a fine suit, but he knew, deep down, he did sort of want to encounter that man again.  He could tell him he worked for the FBI academy and loved teaching; that sometimes he consulted even.  But he knew that would never come to pass, and moved on from the thought rather quickly.

When he was called into Jack’s office, it wasn’t necessarily a surprise.  He had been teetering toward instability the past few years and it was finally catching up.  His younger years when he could just push everything to the back of his mind was not practical now; all the crime scenes and all the different minds within his own were overwhelming him.  The Minnesota Shrike very well could be the one to finally push him over.

Seeing the back of an unfamiliar man in Jack’s office nearly made him walk slower.  The hair color and wide set of shoulders vaguely familiar.  As he took his seat and heard the man speak; that’s when Will knew.  That elegant man was back and somehow his world was crashing into Will’s.  He couldn’t help but be antagonistic, couldn’t bear the thought that this man would lord it over him and use their past dalliance as a form of power.  But that man was simply charming, smiling and eyes lighting up as if he had found such a grand prize.  Their easy banter hadn’t been effected by the years and it made Will glad that even if he changed so much, the elegant man had not.

The quick way he profiled him and seemed to be able to strip Will bare far more than when they had fucked was too much.  Will left, only vaguely noting that once again he left that man behind without catching his name.

He had barely made it to his classroom before he heard the door slam behind him, that man walking up to him.

“It appears that I now know your name Will Graham, allow me the pleasure of giving you mine.  Dr. Hannibal Lecter, at your service.”

Will couldn’t help but give a brittle laugh, “Of fucking course you would be a psychiatrist.  That’s just my luck.”

Dr. Lecter simply gave a frigid smile in response, “I was a trauma surgeon when we last met.  At a medical conference in New Orleans.  It was rather rude of you to leave without at least saying goodbye.”

Will set down his messenger bag and placed his coat on his desk, “I wasn’t sure there were social protocols for one-night stands.  Other than get the hell out before the other wakes up.”  Looking up and seeing the quiet rage seething behind those lovely burgundy eyes, Will took another approach.  “Look, you were obviously someone that was just in town visiting, I really didn’t want to impose on you.  And honestly, I really didn’t want to deal with an awkward morning when we had such a nice night.”

That seemed to placate him, that rage smoothing out to a strangely lost look that was so misplaced on such a handsome face.  “I looked for you.  I was only in the city one more day, but I spent all my free time walking the streets, trying to catch a glance of you.  I asked the hotel staff and even the bartender, and none of them knew you.  It was almost as if I had dreamed you up.”

“Why?  I’m sure you’ve met all sorts of people, indulged.  Why were you so intent on me?  Why is this even an issue now?  Let’s just keep it professional.”

Dr. Lecter came up and ran fingertips along Will’s beard, his cheekbones now obscured.  “It is rare for me to feel a true genuine human connection, and our discussion most certainly connected with me.”

Those burgundy eyes fixated on him, his own eyes now covered by glasses, did nothing to lessen the intensity.  “I was a cop in New Orleans.  That’s probably why the hotel staff didn’t tell you anything.  They weren’t sure why you would be looking for me.”

His careful ministrations moved to combing through Will’s hair, “Dear Will, I think now that I have found you again, I simply won’t let you go.”

That was sort of sweet, in a strange way.  But Will’s insecurities couldn’t help but bubble up.  “If you’re married and have kids, I really don’t want to have this conversation with you.  I don’t want to add ‘home wrecker’ to my resume.”

The doctor laughed, “No.  There is no wife, there are no kids.  Simply an empty house that could do with some company.  Come to dinner tonight.  I feel like we may be doing things in reverse, but for you, I am willing to set aside any anger for your past transgression if you simply indulge me once again.”

“Is that an innuendo for sex again?  Or do you mean as like actually indulge you and go to dinner?”

Dr. Lecter smiled and leaned in, biting along Will’s jaw line, “It’s whatever you want it to be.  As long as I get to keep you, I’ll be satisfied.”

“Huh, no one’s ever wanted me before.”

A sharp bite at the corner of his jaw preceded Dr. Lecter murmuring rather savagely, “Good, then I won’t have to hunt anyone down.”

It was strange for Will to think that his sophisticated man could act so possessive after so long apart, but also strangely endearing.  “You’re making a lot of assumptions Doctor.  Who’s to say I didn’t satisfy my curiosity with you?  Maybe I don’t find you that interesting.”

Dr. Hannibal Lecter pulled back and merely smiled, “You will,” his eyes continued to rove Will’s face, greedily cataloguing the new changes and what stayed the same.  “I do hope you accept my dinner invitation, if not to resume where we left off, then at least to take the health of your dynamic mind into consideration.”

Will could see it, if he declined to pursue anything more with his elegant man, the issue would be dropped.  There would be carefully booked appointments in some posh office, having conversations not actual therapy sessions.  And Dr. Lecter probably wouldn’t even make it awkward, the consummate professional.

Why settle for something easy when you could strive for something worthwhile?

“Do you find curiosity a supreme motivator Doctor Lecter?”

There was that genuine smile that Will remembered; the wide spread of lips and hint of teeth.  “Yes.  Intellectual pursuit and knowledge for knowledge’s sake.”

Will moved forward, finally letting himself touch his well-dressed man once again, running his fingers along the lapels of his sport coat, finally resting on Dr. Lecter’s shoulders.

“It does make life more satisfying; seeing possibilities come to fruition.”  And Will didn’t even have to learn very much closer before he found Dr. Lecter meeting him halfway.

It wasn’t the soft gentleness Will remembered, perhaps the time apart had changed his well-dressed man.  It was a demanding kiss that consumed his entire attention and fully cemented in his mind why he could never forget this man.  The intensity of his full interest was something Will had only imagined so long ago.  What if they had met under different circumstances?  Now, he had that luxury of finding out.

Dr. Lecter pulled away, his burgundy eyes alight, “I think, dear Will, that you will enjoy where your curiosity leads.”

“And I suppose all paths of intellectual pursuit lead to you.  Will I finally know you Dr. Lecter?”

That smile turned positively predatory.  “Perhaps in more ways than one.”     

And Will was rather satisfied with that.

 

Chapter Text

Will was running late.  But he thought it was fair enough after he had trimmed a bit too close on his beard and left a small bald patch on his cheek.  Looking at himself in the mirror and deeming it too ridiculous, Will simply shaved off his beard.  It felt strange; looking in the mirror was almost like looking back at himself in his 20’s, just a young police officer doing his best to help.  He had turned away, mostly because he still had to get his bag ready.  But also so he didn’t have to look back at that face that used to be so hopeful.

His glasses were another story.  He was nearly out the door after stuffing his laptop in his bag, when he remembered his glasses.  A cursory search of the fireplace mantle and bookshelves proved fruitless.  Sighing, he threw his messenger bag on his armchair, about to turn back to the bedroom looking, when he heard a loud crunch.  His bag had, of fucking course, crushed his glasses.  Giving a louder sigh as he cleaned up the ruined frames, he simply left without his shield from the world.  He didn’t want to be late after all.

He made it to class after trying to unsuccessfully finger comb his curls into some sort of order.  Having a morning full of unexpected events made him feel a bit self concious.  Will only hoped he didn’t look too ridiculous as students started to stream in.

 

*****

 

Will was having the oddest morning.  And not just because of how pear-shaped everything went at home, but even his class was acting strange.  They were quiet and really intently focused on his lecture, not to say they didn’t usually pay attention, but maybe more focused on him?  It was a bit odd to be honest.  Even when class ended, there was a larger amount than usual of students staying after to ask the most mundane questions.  He made it out with only 10 minutes left for lunch.  He decided to just eat his sandwich in the classroom, not seeing the point in venturing out.  Will’s next class came in and it was more of the same; he even started to wonder what was so interesting about his presentation on stages of body decomposition.

Early in the afternoon, he headed over to a meeting with his BAU team.  Will walked a bit faster than he would have typically because of a memo Jack sent out that their two resident psychiatrists would also be in attendance.  He hoped to get there early to maybe speak with Dr. Bloom; it really nothing to do with how kissable she looked.  Probably.  He was surprised when he ran into the forensics team already there, arguing about something in their budget report.  They all stopped mid-sentence when Will stepped in.  He couldn’t exactly read their faces though.

He settled for a nervous sounding, “H-hello.”

Brian and Jimmy nearly jumped out of their seats before Beverly placed a firm hand on one of their shoulders, forcibly shoving them back down.  She rose from her seat and nearly stalked toward Will.  He wasn’t sure exactly what the expression was on her face, he would almost say…eager?

“Hey Will, haven’t seen you in a while.  You look good,” she punctuated it with a full body gaze, settling on his face.

He didn’t know what was happening.  A quick glance to her eyes proved that her own emotions were all over the place.  “I saw you yesterday Bev.  Nothing much has changed.  My class was acting sort of weird though…”

She moved a bit closer and gave a soft laugh, “Maybe they were just focused on their great professor.”  Beverly gave him an affectionate cheek pat, her thumb grazing his smooth cheek as she pulled away.

Jimmy chose that moment to pop up next to him, “Yes, you wrote that Standard Monograph on Determining Time of Death by Insect Activity didn’t you?  It received quite a bit of recognition.” 

Will turned to glance at him, “Well yes, I did.  I doubt any of my students have read it though.”

Brian appeared on his other side, “You’re pretty accomplished.  Former Homicide Detective, Academy Instructor, FBI Agent and Profiler,” he gave a Will a full body gaze, “Very accomplished.”

He had no idea why he was surrounded on three sides by the science team.  When they all started trying to talk at once, over each other, with quick touches to his shoulders, his arms.  Will felt overwhelmed.  He was quite lucky that was when Alana and Hannibal chose to walk in, no matter how embarrassed he was.

“Alana!”  He yelled over the now bickering science team, tipping his head back to elevate his face over their heads.

She stopped in her tracks, blue eyes widening, and was she blushing?  “W-Will!”  She looked, stopped in a stupor, bringing one hand up to cover her mouth, her gaze roving over his face and her own reddening.  What the hell was happening?

He was lucky Hannibal seemed to take charge of the situation.  He smoothed down his suit and entered the fray, “If you would please kindly give dear Will some breathing room?  He looks near a panic attack.” 

All three stopped trying to yell over each other, finally noticing his own uneasy expression.  They shuffled back under Hannibal’s glare.  Will would have thanked him if one of his hands wasn’t grabbed and he was dragged to the conference table.

“Come on Will, you can sit with me,” Alana whispered as she picked out their seats. 

He could admit to imagining what it would be like doing any number of mundane things with Alana Bloom; hand holding was one that he placed undue affection to.  But the harsh pull and cold hands were nothing like he had imagined.  Will felt the whole day was off, just because of his hectic morning.  Maybe that was why nothing was going right.  He tried unsuccessfully to pull his fingers out from her grip, but she merely put her other hand on top of his own, giving what she probably thought were soothing pats to his knuckles.  He could vaguely hear Hannibal speaking at the other end of the room, but didn’t focus on the words.  All he could think of was how cold her hands were as she talked about her psychology students.

The science team was further down the table then he remembered when he had first entered, looking almost, traumatized?  Was Brian crying?  What the hell?  Hannibal took that moment to sit on his other side, unbuttoning his suit jacket before he sat.

Will couldn’t really turn with his hands held in Alana’s grasp, but managed to turn his head to face Hannibal.  “I just wanted to say ‘thank you’ Dr. Lecter.”  He gave a quick glance to Alana and back to Hannibal, focusing on his burgundy eyes for once, hoping he got the message.

It seemed he did.  He glanced at Alana over Will’s head before finally speaking, “Dr. Bloom, I wonder how accomplished a psychiatrist you can be if you don’t notice when someone is perturbed by your continual physical attention.”

Alana stopped her strange hand pats, and tilted her head to view Hannibal past Will.  “Perhaps with a cursory glance, but I’m trying to calm Will down.”  She gave Will’s hand another odd pat, glaring at Hannibal, “A student can only be as good as its mentor.  And I believe you were my mentor Dr. Lecter.”

Hannibal stiffened before replying, “A mentor can only work within the confines of the student’s own limitations, of which interpersonal relations may be one of yours.”  

“I’m quite good at understanding people Dr. Lecter.  I’ve worked with a large number of patients with a number of diagnoses; I think I can understand Will.”

“Are you implying that you think of Will as a patient and you can’t help but analyze him?”

Alana stopped patting Will’s hand.  “N-no!  That’s not what I’m implying at all!  He has a lot of problems, but that’s nothing he can’t work on.”

“From my vantage point, Will Graham may be more in need of a paddle than another psychiatrist trying to get into his mind.  Why fix something that isn’t broken to begin with?”

Will couldn’t help the burst of warmth in his chest, oh.

Alana looked ashamed for a moment before she pulled her hands away and turned to face forward in her seat.

Will simply rubbed the cold from his hands before turning in his own seat, finally able to properly see Hannibal.  He suppressed his smile, noting that the doctor did nothing of the sort.

Jack took that moment to walk in with a stack of files.  The meeting began.

 

*****

   

Will wasn’t exactly sure what was happening.  His day had been nothing like usual.  Even after the meeting, when the forensics team scurried out with quick farewells, Alana ducking her head and nearly running out after Hannibal called her over for a last word, it was Jack that tipped him off.

“New look.  It looks good Will,” his boss gave a quick nod before he turned to leave.

What the hell.  Was it that simple?  It couldn’t be.  It was easier to imagine he was hallucinating than thinking everyone found him attractive now without the beard and glasses.

He stood in the hallway for longer than was necessary; it was only when he felt someone standing next to him that he looked up.  He was immensely relieved it was only Hannibal.

“I don’t know what’s happening.  I feel like I’m lost in another hallucination.”  He dared to look to the doctor’s eyes, “Why were they acting like that?”

It was strange, there was a darkly amused look in Hannibal’s eyes, but Will felt it wasn’t directed at him.  “There are those that refuse to see what is before them, focused instead on the phenotype rather than the true intellectual measure of a man.  Those are the ones that shall find their expectations fall vastly short of actualities.  Those are the ones that you and I have no time to entertain.”

And Will was fairly certain that Hannibal had just given him a speech about not judging a book by its cover.  What the hell was happening?

“I didn’t think it would be that big a difference.  This is how I looked as a police officer.”  Will rubbed at his smooth cheek, “And Alana.  She acted so different.  Maybe I would have liked the attention at any other time, but…not like this.”

Will could only think of all the hands touching him affectionately, when days before they wouldn’t have been interested in talking to him about anything other than a case.  It felt like a hollow victory, a social acceptance and being deemed physically attractive when days ago, Alana had called him too unstable.  When Brian and Jimmy gave him weird looks over leaps of logic from a killer’s point of view, Beverly questioning his status as an agent.  All of it, thrown away because he looked different, more acceptable than different.

A warm hand clasped his shoulder, offering a careful pressure, “Don’t go inside Will; stay with me.”   

He returned his gaze to Hannibal.  He didn’t see anything vastly different.  There were no turbulent emotions, the hand on his shoulder was nothing new; Hannibal had given him friendly pats on the back or arm numerous times.  He hadn’t shied away from physical contact simply because Will was closer to an edge than he’d like to admit.  Hannibal was a constant when he was surrounded by those that were vastly changeable on their view of Will Graham.

“And you Dr. Lecter?  What do you think of my new look?”

Hannibal only smiled, closed lips, stretched wide.  “I find you to be just as enchanting as ever, with your dog hair covered jacket, to the way your foot tapped as you waited for Jack to finish his closing points.  I like you simply as you are, at any given time.”

“That’s something I’m not sure I would have believed, but after today’s circumstances, I think I’m more willing to listen.”

“That’s all I can ever hope for.  If you are free, would you be able to come to dinner this evening?”

That was also something that wasn’t beyond Hannibal’s normal actions.  Will had made it to a few dinners in the past weeks, even the invitations he had to decline were taken with grace.  Hannibal truly wasn’t treating him differently. 

“Yes.  Just let me put some things in my office and we can head over.”

Hannibal looked just as delighted as he had any other time Will went to his house.  “That’s just as well, I haven’t seen your office here in Quantico.”

Will gave a quick laugh as he led the way, Hannibal walking comfortably by his side.

He would never know what Hannibal had said to each person in that meeting room.

The science team was turned on quite viciously as Alana had pulled Will away.  Hannibal had offered up cruel psychoanalyses covered by his concern with the department not being able to find physical evidence from the Chesapeake Ripper, taking care to shatter their confidence in their work.    They were left thinking they didn’t live up to their parents’ expectations, that the other twin was better at everything, and that false bravado could never cover up personality deficiencies.  All of this was carefully hinted at, their own conclusions found under Hannibal’s manipulative guidance.  He offered the simple advice that perhaps the next scene would offer more evidence, it was only such a shame that it would mean another dead body.  Perhaps they’d get a bigger budget when they caught the Ripper.  Or when they acted more professional in the workplace.  He left them, quiet and subdued, far different from their usual manner.

Alana Bloom was easy to stop after the end of the meeting.  Hannibal recommended she take care while around Will Graham, already so hurt from her shifting emotions.  Perhaps she was projecting after all; who was more unstable, the one who couldn’t make up their mind or the person that tried to connect but was rejected or accepted based on factors outside of their control?  He recommended she stop playing her own psychiatrist and seek professional council, would she need a referral?  She blanched as she stood unsteadily, before leaving, a soft catch in her breath as she held in her sobs.

All in all, it was a rather productive day for Hannibal Lecter, not that Will Graham would ever know.

Instead, they had left Quantico to Hannibal’s in their separate cars.  Hannibal Lecter couldn’t believe his luck at being able to isolate Will so easily.  The fact that his exterior had changed was not wholly disagreeable, but didn’t affect the true beauty of his mind.  And his mind was something Hannibal was loath to share with those that would never be able to fully appreciate it.  All he had to do was fully ensnare Will, and for once, simply remaining a consistent presence would be enough.

He met Will at his doorstep, a tentative smile offered to him, Hannibal simply offered his own typical answering smile as he ushered Will in, a warm hand settled on the small of his back.

Hannibal knew the value of careful planning and orchestration, but was more fully aware of the power of careful patience.  And with Will Graham, a constant presence may be the easiest way gain the partner he always wanted.  Slow and steady won the race.  Especially when all other competitors were firmly removed. 

The ease of their conversation and the casual way Will spoke in his home told Hannibal that was perhaps the best way.

And as he took a sip of wine and allowed himself to appreciate the newly revealed planes of Will’s face, the brightness of his blue eyes; Hannibal admitted that slow and steady had the benefit of admiring the scenery as well.  

 

Chapter Text

Dashboard lights started everything for Will Graham.  Ever since he figured out Price had a loose gas cap that kept triggering the check engine light and bought a replacement on his way to work one day, he had become the Car Guy of Quantico.

He didn’t think much of it when he got a call from Beverly about a flat tire.  He simply headed over.  Arriving there, giving her a quick smile, Will opened up the trunk of her car, removing the floor mat to pull out the spare tire.  He pulled out the small car jack and lug nut ratchet most newer cars had.  He slid the jack under the car before carefully pumping it up.  He used the ratchet to take the hubcap and lug nuts off and, handing them off to Beverly before slipping off the flat and rolling the spare into place.  He screwed it back on and slowly lowered the jack, sliding it out from under the car before putting the flat and ratchet back in the trunk.  It really only took about 10 minutes.

“You know, you were sort of hot doing that.  My hero.”  She said with a soft laugh. 

“It was pretty simple really.  Nothing to it,” he replied with an awkward smile. 

It all seemed to come to a head with a simple oil change.  One of the department’s SUV’s had been burning through gas and apparently had a change oil light on for the a few months.  Not that anyone noticed.  Will figured the problem out fairly quickly when he asked Jack if they changed it every 3,000 or 5,000 miles.

“What?”  Jack had replied.   

He gave a mental sigh before looking at the manual from the glove compartment and finding the type of oil and filter it needed before he went to buy it.  He returned with the right types and a drip pan in a bag from the auto parts store.  There was also an audience that had grown in his absence.  The forensics team milled about the parking lot with Jack, probably to see what all the fuss was about.  Will took off his jacket and unbuttoned his plaid shirt, placing both off to the side before he slid under the car. He removed the oil pan bolt and slid the drip pan underneath, catching the used oil that came out with a splutter.  Inevitably, it splattered against his face and shoulder.  He sighed and was glad he was just in his undershirt.  When it was done dripping, he replaced the bolt and slid the pan out, setting it aside.  Stepping around the SUV, to get the bag with the new oil and filter, he noticed more people had showed up.

Will was rather surprised to see Alana and Hannibal had joined the group, standing off to the side.  Beverly and Alana seemed to be…whispering?  And Price was joining in but kept getting shushed for speaking too loud.  Zeller and Jack appeared to have left; at least someone was actually doing their job.  But it was Hannibal that seemed to be oddly attentive.  It was probably because he was covered in oil, the splatter covering more of his face and neck than he had expected, he could feel it dripping down his neck.  He took off his shirt to wipe off his face and shoulder, putting it on the bumper of the SUV to clean up with later; it was already dirty anyways.  He heard the chatter cease, probably because he had just smeared the oil rather than actually clean it off.  Deciding to ignore the odd silence, Will opened up the hood and took out the old filter, noting how filthy it was, way over 5,000 miles.  He opened the new oil bottles and saturated the new filter to prime it, rubbing some along the rubber ring for good measure, before refilling the engine and slipping the filter in.

Will gathered up the empty oil bottles to pour the used oil from the drip pan into.  Sealing them, he gathered up the old filter and put them into the bag.  He grabbed his discarded shirt to wipe off his hands, noting he’d have to wash them if he wanted to get it out from under his fingernails.  He could probably do with a shower to get it off his neck and torso; trying to wipe the oil smears simply rubbed it more into his skin.  He threw his stained shirt into the bag as well, not wanting to get everything covered in oil.  Will looked for his button up and jacket, knowing he had left them near the car, when he heard a small cough.

Hannibal had both and offered his shirt back. 

“Thanks,” was all he could say.  He shouldn’t have felt as weird as he did about being smeared in oil and half-naked in front of his not-psychiatrist, right?

“I never knew you were so good with cars Will,” Alana stepped up to speak with him.  Beverly and Price not far behind.

He buttoned up this shirt, opting to just roll up the sleeves.  “I always liked mechanical things, probably because my dad fixed boat motors.  Cars aren’t so different, still just moving parts.”

“Did I tell you what happened?  I got a flat really late and didn’t know who to call.  Will showed up and fixed it no problem!” Beverly added.

Price spluttered, “He figured out why my check engine light was on.  It was a faulty gas cap.  I had taken it to 3 mechanics and they couldn’t figure it out.  5 minutes with Will and he knew.”

“Wow,” Alana replied looking genuinely impressed.

Beverly and Price appeared to start bickering about who had the better car story.

Hannibal hadn’t said anything, merely held tightly to Will’s green jacket.

“Well, I’m just happy I could help really.”

Alana smiled.  “Do you know anything about hybrid cars?”   

“They’re trickier with the batteries, it’s probably best to go to the dealership for that.”  Will replied honestly, not really understanding the crestfallen look on her face.

He tried to ease the awkwardness, “Your car’s still fairly new, it’s probably still under warranty.”

She gave him a strained smile.  “Y-yes.  It probably is.”

Hannibal appeared to pick up and end the already fading conversation.  “Will, perhaps it’s time to return to work.  Jack called me over to help you look over some files on the Ripper.”

“Yeah.  Thank you for grabbing my jacket for me.”

Will only vaguely noted that he had to tug a bit harder than he thought to get his jacket back.

And if Hannibal followed far closer to his side than usual, he paid it no mind.  With Alana, Beverly, and Price following, he probably only wanted to keep pace. 

But from there, he started to receive calls from Hannibal.  

The head light being out on Hannibal’s car seemed easy.  Asking the doctor of the model of Bentley, an honest to God Bentley, Will bought the right bulb.  He arrived and set to work popping the hood and looked for the back of the headlight before releasing the plug from the housing.  Pulling it out, he grasped the burnt out bulb and unscrewed it, putting the new one in and replacing the plug, tucking the wires back into place.

He looked up and noticed that same intent look about Hannibal.  He appeared to be focused on his hands.  Maybe he wanted to see the dead bulb?

“It was a simple burnt out bulb, you might want to keep an eye on the others so you don’t get a ticket.”  Will held it out and Hannibal grasped it carefully.

The doctor’s eyes moved from the blackened bulb to Will, “Thank you,” he said.

And Will could feel the weight of sincerity in his words, along with something else he couldn’t define.

Later it was a dead battery.  Hannibal said he mistakenly left the lights on when he arrived early to his office.  Will tried not to dwell too much on how uncharacteristic Hannibal’s mindlessness was.  He simply drove over with jumper cables.  He opened up the hood to that honest to God Bentley and detached the battery cables from the terminal, and attached the red cables to both positive terminals on each car.  He attached the black cable to the negative terminal on his car and the corresponding black cable to a bolt on the chassis of the car.  Over charged batteries released hydrogen gas that could ignite, making it safer to use one terminal.  He went back to his car and started it, letting it run for a few minutes.  He had the doctor try starting his car; when the engine revved, Will set back to work removing the jumper cables.  He did it carefully in reverse order, the negative wires first, the positive last.  He let Hannibal know that it’d be enough to get back home, but as soon as he stopped the car, the battery would be dead.  Hannibal would need a new battery, hopefully he could handle that bit on his own.

“Perhaps you could follow me home, just to ensure I have no further trouble.  Only if you’re not previously engaged.”

And Will really couldn’t say no.  He had nothing else to do except go home to his dogs. 

“Alright.”

He should have known it would snowball from there.  Hannibal offered him dinner, with copious amounts of wine for helping him with his car trouble.  Then, Hannibal offered him a guest room, surely it was more prudent to sleep here than risk the possibility of an accident.  And honestly, under the haze of alcohol, feeling really good about helping his friend, Will felt warm.  If he made a move on said friend, he could only say it seemed a good idea at the time. 

The fact that Hannibal reciprocated to his drunken kiss said a lot more than anything that Will could think of later.  The kissing turned to a rather inelegant stumble to the guest bed, Will content to grind against Hannibal’s erection.  He felt warm in his skin, taking his clothes off was a natural progression.  Scratching and pulling at Hannibal’s followed a similar avenue of thought.  Will seemed only satisfied when he felt the matching heat of Hannibal’s skin against his own, muscles straining against each other as they moved in a more frenzied rhythm.

“Your confidence with cars has undoubtedly been surprisingly arousing,” Hannibal murmured against Will’s neck, licking along straining tendons.

Will hummed in pleasure, gripping hard on Hannibal’s hips, “I’ve wondered why you watch so carefully.  You like how sure my hands have been, wondering what else they’d be good at.”

Hannibal chuckled into Will’s neck, “There have been many things I’ve wondered what you’d be good at.  Your hands are steady, far better than some surgeons.”

“You think I’d be good at cutting into people?” Will couldn’t help but ask jokingly; that was high praise coming from a former medical doctor.

The particularly hard grip Hannibal had on Will’s shoulders only got firmer, “Yes.”   

From there, it was a haze of stubble burn and wet kisses.  Will momentarily panicked when Hannibal pulled away and moved off the bed.

“I’ll be just a moment, let me get something for our endeavors.” 

The doctor returned quickly, draping himself across Will.  The snap of a bottle opening brought some clarity to return to him.

“Is this going to change things between us?”  Even if Will hadn’t thought this would happen when he helped Hannibal with his car troubles, he didn’t want sex to ruin whatever they had.  Will’s past experiences had shown how messy relationships could get if both people weren’t on the same page, or at least knew what each other wanted.

Hannibal paused, “Of course, but not all changes are bad.  It’ll simply be a natural progression in our relationship.  Unless you wish for it to stay the same as it’s been.”

Will did take a moment to think on their friendship; when it had started it hadn’t even been remotely friendly.  But from their unofficial therapy sessions, they had somehow become friends, even joining each other for dinner.  What was one more step?

“I think I’d like to see the next evolution,” he answered honestly. 

He was met with a pleased smirk and the feeling of cool fingers prodding him, slicking as they breached him.  It made Will sigh and arch against Hannibal.

And from there, it was just a memory of more heat and stubble burn really.

 

*****

 

Not much changed, which was rather surprising.  But Will probably hadn’t noticed how connected his life had become with Hannibal’s to begin with.  There were still the unofficial therapy sessions, their simple conversations, Hannibal still accompanied him to crime scenes to ground him.  He went to dinner at Hannibal’s, but instead of the usual awkward goodbye at the door, Will now found himself kissed by Hannibal.  More often than not, he was easily persuaded to stay.

Will frankly found himself not protesting too much.  The sex was a nice addition to their daily interactions; he even felt lucky that someone like Dr. Lecter could be interested in him of all people.  The fact that he finally felt normal only added to that.

And Hannibal did so love his hands.

It was later, when Hannibal and Will were walking out of the lab that they heard the telltale clicking of heels that things changed again.

Alana came around the corner, smiling when she spotted the agent.  “Will!  I was wondering if maybe you had a moment.  My Prius has been---”

Hannibal rather smoothly slid himself in between the two, keeping a firm hand on Will’s back.  “We are terribly sorry, but Will simply won’t have the time to work on cars anymore.  What he’s done is already past common courtesy.  I suggest you go to a mechanic instead of relying on his kindness.”   

He ushered the flabbergasted Will past a stunned Alana, hand sliding from his back to rest firmly on the top of Will’s ass.

Will’s time as being known as the Car Guy at Quantico quickly came to a close.  He could admit that he didn’t miss it too much, not when he had someone that occupied most of his time.  Beverly only teased him about finally having a boyfriend sometimes. 

And for some reason, he didn’t hear from Alana much anymore either.

 

Chapter Text

In retrospect, Will had forgotten Freddie Lounds was a factor.  He had been focused, sharpened and peeled down to his marrow by those he trusted, he had forgotten about those he couldn’t trust.  He gave chase out from his shed towards her car.  Breaking the window and dragging her out was perhaps less than subtle, but he had a chance to fix the error that could collapse everything he had been working towards.  He dragged her into the house, quickly shooing his dogs out as he threw her into an arm chair.  Stepping back with his hands held up placatingly, he gave the best self-deprecating smile he could muster.

She threw her curls over her shoulder, near snarling, “Will Graham, I knew it.  I knew you joined up with Doctor Lecter.”

He stepped quickly over to his desk, grabbing a folder that he handed off to Ms. Lounds which she snatched sharply, darting her eyes from the papers within and back to him.  Will knew he had her when her shoulders eased their stiffness and the pinched look of her mouth changed to a sly grin.

“Huh, I never would have thought you had it in you to double cross.  You always seemed a little buddy-buddy with him to me.”

He gave a soft laugh, “It’s really only undercover work, all sanctioned by the FBI and fully endorsed and supported by Jack Crawford.  I looked into the offer of expunging your criminal record and it’s fully on board.”

The bright look in her eyes had enough hope in them that Will knew he nearly had her.  “I also heard him mention that he wouldn’t be averse to offering Tattle Crime the first dibs on breaking news on the case after the indictment.”   

She was able to barely hold in a gasp, she looked back at the documents in the folder before looking back to Will with her normal calculating look.  “I’m game if you are.  Should we head over to Quantico now or should I lay low until Agent Crawford contacts me?” 

Will allowed unease to cross his face before he rubbed at the back of his neck.  Freddie Lounds picked up on his reluctance easily.

“You don’t think I should, why?”

He looked out the window towards his dogs frolicking in the snow.  “The FBI can only keep you as safe as the people within it are willing to.  And---from my experience, there are those that think they’re doing the best for the Bureau, but are harming the investigation.  No one believed me, especially because Hannibal was so well ensconced in the FBI.” 

Will returned his gaze to the reporter, “And as much as we have the FBI involved in this, this is still a rather small team.  And not only is Hannibal heavily involved and liked within the Bureau, but who he’s involved with is also.”

A pinched look crossed Freddie’s face, “Alana Bloom.  I warned her and she brushed me off.  I can see how she could be problematic as well.  What do you suggest then Mr. Graham?”

He gave a small smile, “I think you would do better to hide on your own, only corresponding with Jack through email or text so no one can verify it’s you by your voice.  Obviously, the FBI would reimburse you for your expenses and travel after this gets wrapped up.”

A greedy look crossed her face, and he could only envision all the things she was imagining charging to the FBI. 

She smiled in a way that seemed more a baring of teeth than anything else.  “Let’s go get my phone and I’ll let Agent Crawford in on the new plan.”

Both of them stepped outside and towards her car in a vastly different manner than how they had left it.  She gave a sniff of derision when she saw her broken window and side eyed him, “The FBI will most definitely pay for this first.” 

Freddie retrieved her phone from the front seat, quickly dialing Jack Crawford’s office and murmuring her acceptance of the proposal with the revision that she stayed away and checked in with him by text.  By her smile and soft laugh, Will was certain Jack had accepted.  She ended her call and put it in her jacket pocket.

She didn’t manage to turn fully towards Will before he slammed her head against the car.

 

*****

 

Freddie Lounds woke up handcuffed to a wheelchair.  She came to in stages and only seemed to realize something was wrong as her eyes started to focus on her surroundings.  Her mouth was taped and she struggled to pull free from the chair.

“Ms. Lounds, what do you know about fire?  Hmm?  Specifically, people and fire?”

Will walked out from a shadowed area off to the side.  He took carefree steps, allowing a small laugh out as he saw the horror in her eyes.

“You see, I used to be a cop.  One day after a horrible apartment fire, the off duty firemen and officers went to a nearby bar to try and unwind.  I was able to chat with a 15 year veteran and you know what he said?”

He kneeled next to her, looking up towards her face as her struggles increased.  “He said that one of the worst places to take a fireman is a place that serves barbeque.  He said that burning bodies have the same smell as slow roasted meat, that heavy charred scent, the scent of fat that fills the air that is surprisingly appetizing.  It’s hard to draw the line in your mind between what was a family that burned to death and baby back ribs based on smell alone.”

Will had expected anger, more violent twisting to get out of his trap.  But she stared straight at him and worked singularly to slip the cuffs off.  He did have to say that he liked her perseverance, if nothing else.  He got up and walked behind her, before continuing the one-sided conversation.

“He even said that one of the worst ways to die was burning to death, but not in the way you would think.  It’s because you’re fully conscious of the burning, can feel your skin bubbling and sloughing off.  But the most awful reason is that you can’t even draw the breath to scream; the fire burns through any oxygen before it can reach your lungs.”

Will gathered up a red gas can, holding in laughter as she startled from the cold gasoline hitting her.  Setting it off to the side, he stepped back with a large pack of wooden matches, an old pack he found in his kitchen when he moved into Wolf Trap.  He lit one holding it before him to make sure he had her attention.

“I wonder Ms. Lounds, if you would suffocate first, or receive enough damage from the fire to die.”  He made sure he made eye contact, broken as she shook her head violently from side to side, her red curls catching the meager light in the room.

He threw the match towards her chair where it landed harmlessly on the cement floor.  He lit another letting it burn down halfway before throwing it into the direction of the reporter.  She managed to stamp it out quickly before it caught the gasoline.

“Clever.  But you’ve always been rather clever.  But no matter how ruthless you are with your stories, you’re ultimately reckless.  If it wasn’t me, it was going to be someone else.  You treat serial killers like men, that they can be felled by bullets and pepper spray.”  Will lit another match not even taking the time to let it burn before flicking it towards Freddie where it rolled and extinguished.

“But no matter if something looks like a man Ms. Lounds, I know that there are those that barely contain the monster underneath.  I know monsters, my life ended and was devoured by one Ms. Lounds.”  He lit another match, holding it in front of him, focusing on her face that barely showed her fear.

“I have a knack for monsters Ms. Lounds.  It takes one to know one, right?  Maybe that’s why it was so easy for me to become one.”

The match was thrown more deliberately, ending up against the armrest of the wheelchair, quickly catching on the gasoline. The fire crawled up her arm and across her lap, before catching on her hair and taking off.  Will could hear guttural groans as she tried to scream, unable to because of the tape across her mouth and he supposed the lack of oxygen.  Before long, her clothing wasn’t enough fuel and the fire burned brighter as it caught on the fat layer beneath her skin.  He could scent that faint charred scent that truly was reminiscent of the barbeque places he and his dad would frequent across Louisiana.

Soft footsteps came up from behind Will, stopping beside him.  He heard a deep inhalation as Hannibal scented the air, as appreciative of the smell as Will had expected.

As Freddie’s body stopped convulsing and the bone became more visible, Hannibal made a pleased hum as he turned to Will, “I love your work.”

Will could only smirk back as he stepped forward to kick the wheelchair to roll down the ramp of the parking garage.  As both men walked out, away from the security station on the lower level, they matched pace easily, finally of similar mindsets.     

 

*****

 

Agent Crawford.  Just checking in.  –FL

 

Chapter Text

When Jack Crawford was appointed the head of the BAU of the FBI it was seen as a changing of the guard.  It was a pragmatic move to a man with a higher case completion ratio, a man that provided results.  And with the elusive Chesapeake Ripper, the retirement of the previous head was seen as an opportunity for a fresh perspective.

It wasn’t a surprise that he brought in his own people.  What was strange was the new forensics team he created.  They weren’t the typical sort of team that a man like Jack who wanted results typically used.  They weren’t an overtly senior team, with numerous published research papers or at least several years working at other labs.  But they ended up working well together and were able to provide support to contribute to Crawford’s high case success rate.

They hadn’t known each other very well before they had ended up in BAU.  Only a few passing meetings at conferences and trainings, enough to know of each other but not enough to feel overly comfortable as they worked.  For the most part, the first few months were spent reorganizing the lab and figuring out a filing system that they could all work with.  Brian Zeller was the one to make up the Dropbox account, a way for them to upload drafts of their reports for the others to add to and edit.  They started uploading notes from crime scenes, and ultimately started arguing the differences between facts and presumptions.  The shared account became a quick way to communicate and snipe at each other.  The three found an easy shared humor in sarcastic remarks added to crime scene notes that let them deal with what they saw everyday at work.

With their new found shared sense of humor, they became friendlier at work and started going to drinks on Fridays.  Jimmy invited them over to a barbeque and enjoyed seeing how long it took them to figure out his twin was there as well.  Brian would post some of his short stories in their shared account, for safe keeping he said, but was unsurprised to find editing done in two different font colors.  When Beverly had a breakup from a 4 year relationship, she was surprised by getting a different cupcake every morning for two weeks on her desk.  They were friends after several months of working together and all laughed when Jack complained about never getting to the lab early enough to get a cupcake too.

Will Graham was a strange addition to their group.  He wandered around them as they collected evidence and hung around the lab as they processed.  Only Beverly seemed to take a quick shine to him, liking his prickly attitude and sharp sarcasm.  Jimmy Price warmed up to him when he saw how he always understood their analysis, not needing the hand holding and careful breakdown that Jack tended to need.  Brian was always on the fence, leaning toward thinking the worst of Will.  Beverly would always tease him that he didn’t like the profiler because he was smarter.  She later found a quick story about a mean girl named Beverly that had no friends in their Dropbox.  She wrote her own about a boy named Brian who had no friends because he had cooties.

He didn’t make it a whole day of not talking to her before he couldn’t help talking about the new spoilers for the newest Marvel movie.  Jimmy added snide comments about the inconsistencies in the Marvel movie verse.

Beverly leaned over to Brian to whisper, “What a DC fanboy.”             

It was hard to hide their smirks as Jimmy continued ranting.

 

*****

 

With Will’s arrest, Brian was smart enough not to say anything about being right, knowing it’d only earn him a punch from a devastated Beverly.  Jimmy was quiet and diligent in processing.  But life moved on, new cases happened, and the whole team liked having a new focus.  When they didn’t achieve any headway, even with the help of Dr. Lecter, Beverly gathered up some files to take home to look over.

Neither Brian nor Jimmy said anything when they heard she had been to visit Will.  They had learned early on it was best to choose battles with Beverly; but she always seemed to win anyways.  She was just one of those people that could see your side of an argument and crush it with her brand of logic.   

When she was late for work, they didn’t think anything of it.  She had been complaining about her ‘shitty money-pit of a car’.  Brian mentioned running into Bev in the hallway the night before, still working late it seemed.

It was later, when Jack received a call from Freddie Lounds of all people, that they found out.  Jack nearly didn’t let them process the scene, but seeing her body, even from the doorway, was enough to assure the remaining members of the forensics team that they had to.

In the lab, it was oddly quiet as they worked.

Brian was the first to break it, “She---she had been talking about how she was having doubts about Will…”

“That even though the evidence supported the theory, that maybe the theory wasn’t right.”

Both men looked at each other, knowing there was something else here.  It couldn’t have just been her luck that the Ripper got to her. 

She had been on to something.

 

*****

 

Later, after Jack had pulled Will out of the hospital to verify it was the Ripper; Jimmy was goofing off on the internet, waiting for a test to finish running.  He signed into their Dropbox, feeling particularly masochistic and wanted to re-read some of Beverly’s notes, when he saw a new video in their shared folder.  It was simply titled Delete Later or Something.  He would have written it off as one of Brian’s weird experimental movies, if it wasn’t for the uploader’s name.  Katz.

“Brian!” 

Both men sat, cramped over the laptop as Jimmy pushed play.

 

*****

 

It was dark, a lone streetlight shone in the background.  Beverly was cast in shadow as she held her phone out before her.

“Hey, so, I’m just taping this for my own records.  Heh, I’ll probably even delete this tomorrow before the both of you can watch this.  God, this is stupid.  But, umm, let’s just say I was in Dr. Lecter’s neighborhood, taking a stroll, when I could have sworn I heard someone yelling for help.  Now, what kind of person would I be if I just walked by?  FBI agent is a type of peace officer, right?”

The phone turned out toward the large house before her.  She must have clipped it to her jacket, or slipped it in a pocket.  She carefully picked the lock to a side door before making her way in.

“Shit, this is going to be boring, I can already tell.”

She carefully looked at packaged meat in his fridge.

“Whoa, OCD much?  He even has the dates he packaged it, Jesus.”

Beverly made her way to the pantry and looked into another freezer, the phone jostling as she picked up a plastic package.

“What the fuck.  I mean it.  Who the shit needs this much goddamn meat?  And it’s all in these little packs; how fucking long did this take?”  She waved a flat pack of liver in front of her phone.  Disgusted, she threw it back in the freezer, before moving back.  A distant clinking sound had her turn around to adjust a decanter.

Tilting down to see how much she spilled, the wine slipped through the floor boards, a distant dripping was barely audible.

“Oh, this motherfucker.  I swear to God, if he has a freaky sex dungeon, I’m out of here.  I really don’t want to see Lecter’s collection of ball gags.”

She lifted the hidden trap door, shinning her flashlight in before seeing a set of stairs.  “Spoooky,” she whispered in a fake ghost voice.  Beverly was quick, and walked the small corridor before noticing the odd plastic strips hanging.  It was the chains that made her pause.

“Okay, maybe it’s just a regular dungeon.”

She found a light switch on a wall to the side.  Her first focus was on the metal surgical table, strategically placed near a drain on the cement floor.  The phone’s camera turned with her when a small gasp was heard.

“Oh my God.”

There was what could only be described as cells.  Two of them that barely received any light from the florescent lights.  In one, sat Miriam Lass, docile in a white night gown, one arm gone.  The other held Abigail Hobbs who started crying.  Her eyes widened and focused behind Beverly.

And behind her as she followed the line of sight, obscured by plastic, stood Hannibal Lecter, menacing and face shadowed.  He leapt to the side and turned off the lights.

She got off a few shots, but in the darkness, it was hard to tell what was happening. 

Muffled, her voice cut through the darkness, “Will was right you fucking asshole; you’re the Ripper and the Copycat!”

Soft wheezing could be heard, clothing rustling in the darkness.

“Go to sleep Miss Katz, we can’t have you muddling the waters any more than they are.”

A distant voice was heard in the background, hard to understand through sobbing, “Please Hannibal, what if you just---”

The doctor scoffed, “Let her go?  What do you think she’ll do Abigail, just forget what she saw?  She was here to incriminate me.  And if I’m found out, so are you.  You’ll go to prison and so will I.  How do you expect us all to leave together?”

The wheezing stopped and the phone and the body it was attached to both fell to the ground.

“Now, help me clear out a place in the freezer, we have a long night ahead of us.”

The last few moments the phone captured was distant sobbing and whispered ‘No’s’.

 

*****

 

Brian almost didn’t make it to the sink before he threw up.  Jimmy sat back in his chair, completely blank. 

After spitting out the remaining bile, Brian muttered, “That fucking asshole.”

Jimmy mumbled, “That’s what she said.”

They both looked at each other before laughing hysterically.  Laughter turned to crying and they moved to hug each other in shared grief.

 

*****

 

“What do we do?  Now we know it’s Lecter.  Do we give this to Jack or the police?  Or should we…Fuck, Jimmy, I really just want to kill him.”

Both of them sat in Beverly’s office.  It was just as she left it and would need to be cleaned out at some point.  But for now, it served as an impromptu conference room.

Jimmy looked off toward the small window in her office with several potted cactus plants in front of it.  The window didn’t show much beyond a parking lot and a few trees without leaves.  But she had bullied them into letting her have it when they started working for Jack.  It had an east facing window that she said provided ‘delicate light for her delicate cacti’.   

Beverly had always had a soft spot for things that didn’t look cuddly.  From her cacti to the mean tom cat with only one eye that she tamed enough to let her pet him.  To Will Graham, the unstable profiler that she could always coax a small smile from.

Jimmy turned to look at Brian, “She died trying to save him.  We have to save Will Graham.” 

 

*****

 

From there, they copied the video file and sent one to Jack.  They debated sending one to Freddie Lounds, but decided to wait until he was captured.  He was arrogant enough to think he had gotten away with everything, but pragmatic enough to handle problems as they came.  And they knew the Ripper seemed to be an avid reader of Tattle Crime.

They received a phone call not long after, a pissed off Jack Crawford.  “We need to rescue those women.  We need to save Miriam and Abigail.”

Jack called up a judge he was familiar with, someone he golfed with in the warmer months.  The video was damning and was admissible evidence under the rule of exigency.  Beverly claimed she heard screaming before breaking in, and with the video showing two women in captivity, it was entirely probable.  It was enough to get an arrest warrant for her murder and false imprisonment of Miriam and Abigail.

A long line of SUV’s left Quantico.  Closer to Baltimore, several police cruisers joined in. 

Brian and Jimmy volunteered to pick up Will Graham.  All charges had been dropped but Chilton remained reluctant to let him out without escort.  Apparently, after hearing of Beverly’s death he had appeared more troubled than usual.

Led to his cell by a twitchy orderly, the pair had a bag with Will’s personal effects and waited until the cell door was opened and the orderly had walked away.

He did seem to be in bad shape.  His jump suit was half-off and he was laying curled on the floor. 

Brian cast a nervous look to Jimmy before starting, “Hey Will.  We’re here to take you home.”

There was no response besides a small body shudder.

Jimmy sighed, “Will, we got Hannibal.  Actually, if you want to be technical about it, Beverly got him.”

That at least cause him to turn his head to face them.  “W-what?”

A small beep broke the silence.  Brian checked a text on his phone.  “Well, technically, now we got him.  They just arrested him.”  He laughed a little, scrolling down, “He tried to take out the cops with a kitchen knife.”

Will sat up.  “Tell me everything.”

And they did.

 

*****

 

The three left the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.  Stepping out into the crisp autumn air, Will paused.  It was the first time he had felt the sun in a long while.

“Hey slowpoke, hurry up or we’ll leave you here!”  Brian yelled from his car.

Getting in, Will leaned his head against the glass window, closing his eyes to listen to the quiet of the road.

Jimmy broke the silence of the car ride as they drove near Quantico.  “Hey, it’s Friday.  We could go to Happy Hour.  We…well, we always used to go with Bev.  We haven’t been since…”

Will opened his eyes and smiled softly, “That sounds good.  She would have wanted us to celebrate the win.”

Brian tapped his hands on the steering wheel, “Fuck.  And this is a big win.  The goddamn Chesapeake Ripper.”  He tightened his grip and released it adding in a softer voice, “All thanks to Bev.”

And when they got to that small sports bar the forensics team used to frequent all the time, the first round was toasted to Beverly.

All three men politely ignored any and all tears.

Will joined them every Friday after work.  All through Hannibal’s trial, their own testimonies, and his conviction.   

It wasn’t long after that Will got an invite to the Dropbox account.