There were a lot of ways this situation could be better. They could be in one of the secure bases the army had established in DC. They could have a lot more firepower. They could have a functioning car.
They could not be in the middle of a zombie apocalypse.
But if you had to deal with the walking dead, Will supposed he could do worse than being stuck with Hannibal Lecter.
These were the thoughts, calmly organized, they floated through the mind when it was under pressure; focusing on things, cataloguing them, trying to make sense of the senseless. That was his gift, to see another’s design. But there was none of the that here, no fragile tree of roundabout logic, no shattered window to piece back together so he could see into another’s soul. This was the randomness of pure chaos, a force of nature.
This was like a corner of Hannibal’s mind.
When the zombies had overrun the crime scene shortly after the half-panicked radio calls summoning people to safety had come over the airwaves, when they’d eaten one officer who was a touch too slow, when they’d crushed the cars with the press of their bodies, they’d also parted around Hannibal after a quick sniff, ignoring him like he was one of their own.
Once the three of them had been able to stop running, Alana had gone white, then red with rage. She had been listening to Will’s theories on Hannibal for a long time, blinded by a logic more fitting the facts than willing to acknowledge the monster in her bed. Not now.
“You unbelievable bastard.” She’d kept herself from screaming only because Hannibal had been the one to guide them to safety.
“Not so hard to believe, Alana. Will had believed for a long time.” Said with such utter calm, such professionalism, that you almost wanted to respond in a reasonable manner. Almost.
Will can see her hands crooking, claw ready to sink in, and takes her arm. He shakes his head, watching a tear of rage fall down her cheek.
“Professional courtesy, Hannibal?” she all but snarled instead.
“They are much more honest in their needs than most of my patients. Would you have preferred to have been killed by one of them?”
Surreal, being in a kitchen of a restaurant, the first place they’d found with secure doors. A hapless cook, head smashed against a counter from a panicked mass exodus was their silent host. Alana looked way, at Will. He didn’t have anything to assuage her anger. Hannibal was a monster. He’d realized that too late, a monster in human form.
Alana can’t answer Hannibal’s question; there’s no point. She’s not going to throw herself into a horde of mindless, flesh-eating monsters when she has one she knows she can deal with right in front of her. It’s a case of the devil you know. She just looks away, magnificent in her rage, betrayed, and Will wants to hold her and kiss her and take her by the shoulders and shake her for not seeing – and none of this matters either. They’re in a restaurant kitchen with a cannibal while a zombie apocalypse rages outside.
Hannibal seems gleeful underneath his usual calm; chaos is a favorite pastime of his.
“Then perhaps we can leave here together,” he suggests, and the mildness of his voice betrays the horror in their answers, because there aren’t enough bullets between them to make it a car not smashed in panic.
Alana’s eyes stray to the dead cook, and Hannibal doesn’t flinch. He never would; it’s beneath him. Will can’t find the strength to do so. It’s creeping up on her that what’s about to happen she’s already done before, they both have. The outward anger and denial is just a defense mechanism to retain sanity. Will is about ready to let his go, to enter the realm of the stark clarity of madness. It’s no place he hasn’t been before, and the specter lurking in his consciousness is a welcome old friend.
“We need to get out of here, Alana,” Will says, and he’s right and that’s his answer and Hannibal doesn’t smile when Alana nods her head a minute fraction. He just looks pleased and puts a hand on Will’s shoulder.
Hannibal is far stronger than his suit suggests.
She can’t look when Hannibal selects a knife and that’s not out of cowardice. Neither think less of her for that.
“Sit. We should take a moment for something civilized before we have to run again.”
Will feels a laugh trying to erupt, and parlays that into a nod. The murder scene hadn’t been too far from this nice little place, and it seems to have a good enough selection to satisfy Hannibal’s exacting cooking standards.
“I’ll help,” Will hears himself say. Alana steps forward mutely, hands out. They might as well be accomplices and honor the fallen. Hannibal’s proud look warms in a genuine smile. Will looks down over the abyss below his feet and willingly takes the first step.
Hannibal butchers, Alana cuts herbs, and Will takes care of the vegetables. The scents are intoxicating, and if electricity and gas go out soon, this could be the last gourmet meal of any type they’ll have for a long time.
It’s a simple meal, steak and roasted vegetables with a fine sauce. It’s damnably delicious and Will lets himself enjoy, as he has every other time he’s eaten at Hannibal’s table. Alana swallows every bite hard, fighting it down, but cleans her plate, knuckles white. There’s some good wine found in a cooler, and they linger with a few glasses of courage, waiting for everything to circulate.
Hannibal gets up first, but they all go to the back door together. Out in the alley, up the street, the dead shuffle past.
“Shall we?” Hannibal asks, like asking partners to a dance. Alana puts her hands in her pockets. The dead see them, sniff, and walk on. Hannibal steps out like he’s on a stroll through the park, and Will feels the abyss yawning deeper as the zombies ignore him and Alana too. Hannibal looks back and smiles again, secretive and very pleased.
Alana trembles next to him, and Will knows she feels the abyss too. She licks her lips, and Will squeezes her arm. She just keeps walking towards the car Hannibal has picked. Will follows, teetering on the edge as the dead ignore him, and knows, far away as they are from the nearest base, and how chaotic things are, they’ll probably have to stop for lunch.
He wonders what Hannibal will prepare.
It doesn’t escape his notice that he didn’t think “who.”