In the dream, Will was standing naked in the river, up to his waist. The water was cool, but not unpleasant. The sky was clear and beautiful.
“Will, are you in there?” Jack's voice jolted him back to reality.
He was sitting in front of the last slide of his presentation, still absent-mindedly chewing on the pen he had been gnawing on when the class had left. He blinked at Jack from behind his glasses, forced a smile.
“Sorry, Jack. What is it?”
“There's a crime scene I need you to look at. We think it might be the Ripper.”
It isn't. It isn't because he's not in town. He's not in town because I slept with him. Will shook his head, trying to push away the memories of hot skin brushing against his own. “I can't. Not until the doctor says my brain's fixed.”
“It was never 'fixed' in the first place,” Jack replied, with obvious impatience.
“As it happens, I agree with you. However, Alana was very insistent that I have to avoid crime scenes while I'm staying with her. She thinks I need the break.”
“Hannibal's out of town. I don't have anyone else to call.”
Will smiled bleakly. “I'm afraid I can't help. Alana, Hannibal and yourself are pretty much the only people I ever speak to.”
When Jack left, Will considered returning to his daydream. It had been the first time in five days he had felt relaxed. His ankle itched constantly beneath the cast. He hated having to go everywhere in this stupid wheelchair.
And he was missing Hannibal.
It was like a limb had been removed. Even ignoring the vivid and unusual events of the start of the week, Hannibal had become a key fixture in Will's life. He was so used to wandering over there whenever he fancied, really, spilling his worries and being soothed by the older man.
What would have happened if Will had just leaned over and kissed Hannibal during one of their sessions? Was it so wrong that he wished he didn't know the truth about Hannibal?
The truth that he was a murderer. A cannibal. A monster.
Little memories had started coming back during the past few days, things that now made a lot more sense. Some of the comments Hannibal had made over meals. A certain look he sometimes got in his eye.
The Ripper and the Copycat were the same killer. And that killer was Hannibal.
The scope of it was overwhelming.
Alana came to collect him at five, smiling warmly when she saw him. He forced himself to return that smile, to show his gratitude to her. He wasn't sure where he would be without her.
In the car, she made bright conversation. Everything about Alana was bright; she was positive, and clever, and sweet. She was honest and giving. Her personality sometimes straddled the darkness, but she was as close to a good person as Will knew.
None of this explained why he didn't want her.
He had been seduced by darkness, and he knew deep down that he couldn't return to the light.
He wanted to. Hannibal had said that he wanted Will to have the choice, but there was no way he could give the choice back to Will now. Not really. Will didn't want to have feelings for a manipulative cannibal, but there was no way to get rid of them. Something was wrong with Will, something which allowed him to feel this way about somebody so evil.
And as much as he knew that Hannibal had a good side, he was very aware that the majority of him was evil. It had to be.
Alana made coffee when they returned, and they sat opposite each other in a neat dining room, eating reheated Chinese takeaway.
“None of us eats well when Hannibal is away,” she said, with a smile.
Will choked slightly on the piece of chicken he was chewing.
“Will, what happened between you two?” Suddenly, she was leaning towards him, eyes wide, face open. An expression that was intended to reassure him she could be trusted.
“Nothing.” The lie came more easily than he expected it to, accompanied by a bright smile, the brightest of the day so far.
She leaned back, clearly unconvinced, but she let the topic drop.
It was raining outside, and the air smelled brilliantly fresh when Will let the dogs out later. He sat watching them, and let his mind wander.
He was back in the water. He was laughing, feeling happy, feeling relaxed. The sky darkened suddenly, turning to the same bloody orange as it had been when Hannibal had come to him in bed. He suddenly felt unsettled, like he should get out of the water.
A hand knotted in his hair suddenly, and a strong arm wrapped around his torso, tugging him into firm body. Hannibal's face appeared beside his, but it was black and feathered. He grazed Will's ear with his mouth.
Will blinked, and he was sat in his wheelchair watching the dogs. He felt strangely warm, and aroused, and unsettled.
Hannibal was coming home.