When he was brought in with all the fanfare, Will didn’t see the newest lifer at the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, not really from where he sat on his bunk with his head in his hands. Supposedly, the new guy was the real deal, the true Chesapeake Ripper. Considering Gideon and himself had already been accused and investigated under the same name, Will was more than a little skeptical.
The guy must have done something to piss someone off or scare it out of them. They had him trussed up in a straightjacket and strapped down to a gurney so he had to be rolled in. It was overkill in Will’s opinion considering the man’s hands and legs were shackled. There was even a mask over his face. Yay, just what they needed. A biter.
Turning away unimpressed by the spectacle to lay out on the bunk, Will reasoned that Chilton must really love his drama and attention. He wanted to be someone’s media darling that was for damn sure, always ready to whore out a dog and pony show of psychiatry to anyone who would give him a hot second.
Tending to live in his own head to cope with his dull living arrangements, Will didn’t give his new neighbor much thought. During the next few weeks of monotony that followed, the most he observed was that the man certainly was popular, getting more that his fair share of visitors and lookie loos. Chilton loved to show off his collection of freaks and monstrosities. The new influx of people gave Miggs new targets to mark and Gideon to snark at so there was never a dull moment. On his part, Will ignored them all so people usually lost interest in him pretty quickly. The ones that tried to provoke him got told something horrifyingly true about themselves. It left them a little cracked, if not broken.
For all his sins, proven and not, Will was here because the system didn’t know what to do with him. He had been deemed too damaged and dangerous to be released back into the wild. That and Chilton thought Will was far too valuable to give up on just yet.
Being a loner due to his extreme empathy, Will was without any real friends or family to protest his imprisonment so Will was stuck in a limbo of sorts. He figured it was for the best. He knew he was a dangerous man after all, even if others were still scrambling for hard evidence of further misdeeds to prove it. The only secret he held onto about that was to what extent.
The encephalitis had done terrible things to him before anyone noticed or done anything about it. It took Will brutally killing a man, more or less in self defense, for anyone to render aid. Prosecutors, judges, and the media tended to want someone alive on the stand to condemn. When the wrong people had noticed him while he was getting help, Will awoke from his sickness to fine himself here in his own personal circle of hell, cast as the Chesapeake Ripper thanks to Freddie Lounds and her speculations. Needless to say, the real Chesapeake Ripper had not been pleased about that. The infamous serial killer had taken it upon himself to do everything in his power to convince the FBI of their folly.
That being said, Will still had a corpse cut up in his freezer though so that counted for something. Now admittedly, the fact it was another serial killer threw a monkey wrench in the works, one wanted for brutal animalistic murders. No one could decide if that worked for or against Will.
Hell, even Will couldn’t make up his mind up on that one.
In the end, the only reason Will even bothered to acknowledge his neighbor was when he was irritated into action.
The television was back on, fire and brimstone pouring forth from the high quality speakers at full volume. The preacher’s voice was beginning to scare the fish.
Sighing, Will slipped back into the here and now, leaving his stream behind for a better day. For whatever reason, the Chesapeake Ripper had pissed Chilton off again. The televangelist programming was Chilton’s petty way of punishing the Ripper for not wanting to be a willing participant to his brand of therapy. Not that Will could blame him. Despite other people’s opinions on the matter, being insane didn’t mean you were stupid. Having already gone through his own trails and tribulations with Chilton, Will knew what kind of banality the Ripper was in for. His solitude had been hard won.
The problem was that this sort of thing affected everyone else in the cell block, not just the Ripper. Miggs was currently chanting himself hoarse in a corner of his cell while Gideon yelled at him to shut the hell up. That or he was demanding drugs, lots of them, so he could skip being saved. Having a God fearing Southern upbringing under his belt, Will generally had the patience to ignore it, and the ability to fall asleep during sermons with little effort.
Today was the exception it would seem, the preacher’s annoying voice wheedling its way under Will’s skin to give life to a headache right behind his eyes. It was enough to make Will notice that he had a visitor of his own. It was even more surprising to find he recognized the man.
“I’m Special Agent Jack Crawford. I lead the Behavioral Science Unit.” said the austere older man in the nice suit by way of greeting.
“We’ve met.” Will grumped at the agent. The man obviously hadn’t intended to bring that up, at least not immediately.
“Yes. We had a disagreement about the museum when it opened.” Crawford smiled, looking like a man who wanted to smooth things over so that he could get onto his main agenda. Before he did that though, he was trying to feel Will out, get a gauge on him. It left Will wondered what the hell an FBI agent wanted with him. People had rarely wanted to talk to him when he had been perceived as sane.
“Not with the museum itself. I disagreed with what you named it.” Will sighed, already put out. It wasn’t like he had anything better to do at the moment, but if he asked nicely, he could probably get a nurse to load him up with something that would make him hear pretty colors and taste sound for a while.
“The Evil Minds Research Museum?” Crawford looked as if he was trying to bite back a smile. The man liked his directedness.
“It’s a little hammy, Jack.” Will didn’t disappoint. “Now, do you want to tell me what you’re doing here and get this over with?”
“Where did you go…before?” Jack said, ignoring the question to motion to Will’s head. The agent still wanted to test him. He wanted to know what kind of crazy Will was.
“Does it matter? I’m not going anywhere.” Will shrugged, losing interest and making it obvious on his face. He had an ability that chipped away at his mind if he let it, but he was as sane as the next person, present company excluded of course. He didn’t have to take this shit.
“I’m told you have a peculiar way of thinking.” Crawford said. Will could tell that the agent was coming to a decision about him, one that would probably not work in Will’s favor. He wondered if Chilton had signed him up for a study or something.
“So I’ve been told.” Will said, tapping his knuckles against the stone walls of his cells as he started to walk away. He couldn’t go far, but he could put a little bit of space between himself and Jack.
“I’m here because you can empathize with killers.” Crawford getting to his point sooner than Will thought he would. Apparently, it was something important. Will could tell by the file Crawford held in his hand. He wondered if it was his own, though probably not. It was far too thin.
“I am empathize with anyone, not just killers.” Will corrected. It was irritating that people tended to just remember that part of his personality. They never seemed to recall that he recycled, was a bit of a bookworm, and liked to collect dog figurines. “I have an active imagination.”
Jack leaned in as if he were about to whisper a secret to Will through the bars. “Can I borrow your imagination?” the agent asked.
“Excuse me?” Will was startled enough by the question to give Crawford his full attention again, turning back to look at the agent.
“I want you to help me with a profile.” Crawford said, raising his hand to shake the file at Will like that was going to entice him to come over and take a look at it.
“Correct me if I’m wrong. I haven’t been employed by the FBI since my incarceration, but when I was a teacher there, I seem to remember that they frown upon getting consults from the criminally insane.” Will smiled, though the expression was far from amused or friendly.
“Not when we’re desperate.” Crawford’s demeanor was beginning to turn positively grim. Will wondered what kind of case would drive an FBI agent to seek him out here of all places. “Bad luck that you’re the best.”
“And isn’t that tragic. Look where it got me.” Will laughed, the noise of it choked out and rough. “Go away. Go away before I tell you something unfortunate and completely true about yourself.”
“I just want you to take a look. Tell me what you see, what you think. That’s all.” Crawford pressed, even going so far to hold out the file between the bars. Chilton wouldn’t be happy about that. He liked to monitor everything, and anything, especially reading material, that was passed into their cells. That was a good enough reason in and of itself for Will to take the file from Agent Crawford.
Unsurprisingly, it was full of pictures. Will had a small wish that one day someone would give him something that didn’t have a corpse as its point of focus. Will rifled through, seeing enough of it to get a very good idea. Not that he told Crawford that. Trying to get in the right headspace for the full scope of it was not happening though, Will opening his eyes with a sigh to glare at the televangelist.
“I’m sorry you wasted your time coming down here.” Will said, taking to his bunk to lie down on it and wrap his arms around his head to better block out the noise. He kept the file to see what Jack planned on doing to get it back.
“Of course, I’m not asking for a free consult. I could do you a favor or two.” Will heard Jack say before he was blessed with silence. It really was golden, Will mused as he let out a sigh of relief.
Sitting up, Will took in the sight of rage, fresh and raw, but not directed at him. Jack was wheeling the television away, but he was definitely letting Will’s famous neighbor it was not for his benefit. Obviously, the agent and the Ripper had some history.
While Crawford took a moment to compose himself, Will considered telling the agent to fuck off as hard as he could. Nothing good could come of this. The agent saw him as a tool, a means to an end. When Will was all used up by the FBI, he would be left here to rot. Messing with Chilton was a top priority of Will’s though. Crawford taking away one of Chilton’s favorite tools of torture could be fun. Will lived for the sour look the man wore on his face after being denied his fun.
“Well, it is not in the FBI’s best interests if I have to work in a hostile environment.” Will conceded as he made a show of reopening the case file to spread out the pictures on his bunk.
“I’ll see what I can do.” Crawford said as he wheeled out the television with him. The cell block breathed a mutual sigh of relief when the door slammed shut behind the agent.
“Thank fuck.” Gideon said. “Anything of interest, Mr. Graham?”
“Nothing you would like unless you‘re into waterlogged corpses that look like they have been shellacked.” Will called back. Sometimes he and Gideon talked. There was really nothing else to do. Gideon was seven buckets of florescent crazy paint with all the trimming of violence to go along with it, but he could be entertaining from time to time.
“You’re right. I prefer mine fresh.” Gideon chuckled before he launched into another rant at Miggs who was jacking off again now that he had some ‘me time‘ in his head. The only perk about the televangelist was that loud reminders of damnation killed Migg’s libido.
“Thank you.” was spoken so softly by an accented voice Will almost missed it. The unfamiliar tone of it seeped through the wall, coming only from one person considering there was only four of them down here. Miggs babbled, Gideon snarked, but this person’s voice was deceptive calm, pleasant even.
“I didn’t do it for you. I was sick of Chilton punishing us all for your trespasses against him.” Will said, pressing his back to the wall. He told himself it was not to better hear the killer in the next cell whisper to him.
“Nevertheless, thank you.” said the Chesapeake Ripper, the real one. Will thought it was the kind of voice that could persuade you to keep talking even when you knew it was a really bad idea.
“Well…um…you’re welcome?” came out more like a question, Will suddenly unsure of what he was doing. “Look…if you want to piss Chilton off, I’m all for it. Just pick a different method to the madness. Treat him like hired help. Poorly trained hired help that you have chosen against your better judgment to put up with instead of firing him. Like you are doing him a favor by being here.”
Will continued when he was met with silence. It wasn’t the cold empty sort of disinterest. It was the kind where the other person was simply waiting for more input. “You already get more mail than him, so treat him like your secretary. It will drive him nuts that his peers value the opinion of a sadistic serial killer over his own, if it doesn’t’ already.
“I will take that into consideration.” the voice said thoughtfully.
“Just so I know I’m not crazy and you’re not a voice in my head or the meds kicking in, what’s your name?” Will asked.
“You don’t know?” The Ripper sounded miffed enough to make Will smother a chuckle into the back of his hands.
“Being doped up to your eyeballs half the time makes keeping track of names troublesome.” Will rolled his eyes, not expecting an answer after that admission.
“Doctor Hannibal Lecter. You may call me Hannibal though if you like.” the Ripper offered up his name like it was a boon being placed at Will’s feet.
“Hannibal the cannibal?” Will said out loud before he could think better of it. He was met with an offended silence, similar to that of a slighted cat. “Ok, I’ll choose to believe you’re real cause that is too ridiculous not to be.”
Will was answered in more silence, the cold kind of offended parties that turned people into tacos for fun. “Don’t get all murderous about it. My name rhymes with kill. That hardly works in my favor either.”
“Will?” was guessed correctly in a cold tone.
“William Graham, Will for short and preferred, at your service. As limited as that may be.” the former profiler and teacher said, keeping his own tone light. He wasn’t trying to make a new enemy, and Hannibal had a pleasant speaking voice. It might be nice to have a conversation every once in a while where he didn’t have to shout.
“I’ve read about you. They thought you were the Ripper for a time.” Hannibal said, sounding engaged again much to Will‘s surprise and delight. He ignored the fact that he was getting happy about a serial killer talking to him.
“For a hot second, yes, but then so did Gideon. You’d think they would be sick of trying to convict people with that name.” Will smiled warily, bearing in mind he was supposedly talking to the real deal. “From what I hear, they even considered Chilton for it until some of his old classmates from medical school laughed their asses off. Apparently, Chilton got into psychology because he was abysmal at surgery.”
“Nothing much has changed.”
Yes, he is rather obvious and heavy handed at it, don’t you think?” Will chuckled. “You do know he’s listening in on us right now.”
“I’m counting on it.”