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Ice to Fire

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Will had always known, deep down, that it would happen eventually, that a case would come along that would lure him back into the field.

And now here it was: someone attempting to make his mark by killing innocent families at full moon. To be more precise, it was a case that had sent Jack Crawford out to lure him back, and Jack had known exactly what he was doing, showing him and Molly the picture perfect family photos. It struck at something deep inside them both. Will had doubted his ability to help, but once Molly had gained full knowledge of the situation, she'd relunctantly conceded: he needed to go.

Will still wasn't entirely sure.

Now an agitated malaise gnawed at his core as he thought about the decision he needed to make, and the letter from Hannibal he'd taken from its hiding place to read earlier, advising him not to go back through the door that Jack was opening. Reading it, 'hearing' Hannibal again, had plunged him into the past once more, bringing Hannibal back into his head. As he'd got back into bed, he'd known full well he wouldn't be able to sleep. Now, sure enough, he tossed and turned, plumping the pillows, turning them over to rest his head on the cool side - until the cool side was also warm and damp.

Hannibal had already found his way into Will's thoughts, more often than Will cared to admit, before the arrival of the letter. Like a stealthy, ghostly creature, the memories of him had lurked, waiting to pounce, bringing up feelings which seemed to rise from Will's belly up to his chest, making it hard for him to swallow, causing his throat to feel choked and dust-dry. Then there it was: that familiar tsunami of emotions; thoughts of Hannibal bringing with them a deep swell of longing, threatening to engulf him.

And it was longing he felt. A real and present yearning for Hannibal's presence. The scent of his body filled Will's nostrils, appeared on his flesh; the intimacy they’d shared was still imprinted on his soul like an indelible mark. Now the letter had brought him into this house too, an envelope and paper held by his hands, words written in his distinctive, elegant handwriting. Had he pressed it to his lips, Will wondered, before it was sealed?

The night of Hannibal's arrest, Will had walked back into the house and wept for minutes on end until his eyes were red and sore. Part of him had thought (had hoped?) that Hannibal would run. Part of him had still wanted to run with him. Part of him had loved the fact that he would always know exactly where Hannibal was.

And, even now, a part of him still crumbled into pieces at the very mention of his name.

Eventually, Will abandoned the chase to catch some sleep and got up. For a moment, he considered rousing the dogs and taking them out, but decided against it. Instead, he grabbed himself a glass of water and sat at the dining room table. It was very quiet. Eerily so. Will closed his eyes and, in spite of himself, deliberately recalled the contours of Hannibal's face. He tried to imagine him in prison clothes; in a cell, maybe in an enclosed room, captured behind glass with holes through which to pass food. He saw him standing straight-backed, proud, undeterred. Will couldn't prevent the small smile that appeared, quirking the corners of his mouth, as he imagined Hannibal watching him in turn, then heard his voice, low and steady, sensual: "Hello, Will."

"Hello, Doctor Lecter."

Will's eyes snapped open. He swallowed back a couple of gulps of water before setting down the glass. Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, he placed his other hand flat against his stomach, feeling for the steady rise and fall of his breath beneath his tee, remembering how Hannibal's hands had felt on him. They could be so gentle, and yet so lethal.

"You have a nice life here," Jack had said as they'd sat together over dinner. Will knew he was right, even though he also knew that Jack could potentially be about to wreck it. 'Nice' meant normal, cosy, stable. This life with Molly, their family, was all of those things. Sharing space, living closely with another person had always been a slightly alien concept; distant, elusive. His feelings for Alana had given him a glimpse of wanting someone but, looking back, all that seemed so... adolescent now. Fumbling around with an idea of love. What he had now was like a warm blanket, safe. But Will knew, deep down, that the most intense and intimate connection he'd ever had was with Hannibal. It was a connection that had given him more than a glimpse of wanting someone. And, all the while denying what he was doing, Will had formed a relationship. Complicated, painfully raw, gut deep, soul deep; joining them together from the inside out.

And they'd almost been a family.

Will often wondered what would have happened if he and Hannibal had taken custody of Abigail and hit the road. What if events hadn't spiralled, ending in that rainy, bloody night when the teacup had once again shattered? Where would they have gone to? Would they have lived happily ever after? He'd since imagined sharing a bed with Hannibal, waking up with him in the morning, their naked bodies side by side; he'd seen himself loving him, being loved... These and other, more... explicit images still found their way into his mind when in the throes of bliss, as he was touching himself, or sometimes - and this was harder for him to admit - as he was making love to Molly. The truth was difficult to ignore, however hard he tried: in spite of everything, thoughts of Hannibal stirred his blood, and aroused him more than anything he'd ever known.

No one else had come so close to knowing him, the light and the dark, his angels and his demons.

Now, at - he glanced at the clock - three am, Will craved him. Like an addict's yearning for a fix, the need in him prickled beneath his skin, urging him to cave in, to satisfy the hunger no matter what the cost.

Hannibal would know what made this killer of families, this full moon devil, tick. Hannibal would know what Will needed. "Hence the letter," Will said aloud. "You sent that paper clipping too because you knew I wouldn't be able to resist. You knew I’d go back, even if it was just to spite you, didn't you? That's exactly what you want me to do."

"Who're you talking to?"

"Er... Myself."

Oh." Molly smiled from the doorway. "I see."

Will smiled back at her. "Did I wake you?"

"No. I woke up thirsty. You were gone, so... I came to find you." Molly sat at the table and took the hand Will was offering to her. "Are you okay?"

Will nodded. "I... I'm just thinking."

"I can guess what about." Molly took a sip of Will's water.

"Do you really think I should do it?"

"I don't think you'd be able to live with yourself if you didn't, honey."

"What I said before... that I might not be the same when I come back..."

"I'll be the same. And so will all of this. And we'll all be here, waiting... Okay?"

Will nodded. "Okay."

"Coming back to bed?"

"Soon. You go."

"Don't be long, okay? I need you. It's cold tonight!"

"Okay."

Left to himself once more, Will's thoughts turned back to Hannibal. He imagined him sitting in the chair opposite, his head inclined, thinking, searching for a way in to the mystery and watching Will's reactions all the while. Will even caught a glint from his cufflinks, the lines of his immaculate suit, the curve of his wristwatch...

"I can't believe I've missed this," Will said aloud.

You know where I am, my dear Will.

"Yes, I know exactly where you are."

Where you can always find me.

"What makes you think I want to find you?"

Oh, you will.