Hannibal had procured the voodoo doll from a curio shop. He isn’t usually given to such foolishness, but the item had borne a striking resemblance to Will, and it had amused him. The owner of the shop had given him a length of red string with his purchase and told him to secure a lock of his victim’s hair around the doll. Hannibal thanked him and tucked both the doll and the string into his pocket, intending to do no such thing.
But one thing leads to another, and Hannibal finds himself standing in Will’s living room not two days later. Will is always striking in the midst of a seizure, when he takes leave of his senses and his body is left a quivering husk. Malleable. Impressionable.
Calling it a decision might be giving the moment too much weight. He has a fleeting impulse, and then it’s the work of a moment to find a (dull—really, Will?) pair of kitchen shears and snip off a lock of Will’s hair.
He tucks it into his breast pocket, beside his heart, and stands to fetch Will a glass of water.
* * *
Hannibal wears his suit until the moment he goes to bed. He peels it off the same way he puts it on—intentionally and piece by piece. He unbuttons his jacket, slipping his arms free, before meticulously removing his waistcoat. He pauses before removing the rest of his clothes, drawing the lock of Will’s hair from his pocket and running his fingers through it, stroking it lightly for the sheer tactile pleasure of it. He brings it to his nose and sniffs, inhaling the fragrance of Will’s cloying, cheap shampoo that smells of chemicals and below it, the lingering scent of sweat.
He sets it on the top of his dresser while he continues to undress. When he’s finished, he opens the top drawer and finds the red cord that came with his impulse buy. He loops it around the little bundle of Will’s hair, securing it with a knot. The voodoo doll stares up at him from the drawer, its painted blue eyes unseeing. On a whim, Hannibal uses the remaining length of string to tie Will’s hair to the doll’s front. He finishes it with a tidy bow and sits the doll atop his dresser, its hands folded neatly in its lap.
He smiles and goes to take a shower.
* * *
“I had the weirdest dream last night,” Will says at their next appointment.
“Tell me about it.”
Hannibal has to restrain himself from leaning forward. It wouldn’t do to appear too eager, not now that he’s finally beginning to earn Will’s trust. He waits for Will to come to him, the way Will might for a stray mongrel; he thinks the comparison would please Will.
“I dreamed that you were holding me, only it wasn’t really you.”
“Was it someone who looked like me, or was it me who looked like someone else?”
Will flexes his fingers, digging them into the arms of his chair. “No, it wasn’t like that at all. It was—you were there, but you weren’t. I could feel your hands around me, cradling me. I felt enveloped. Safe.” He shakes his head and scrubs a hand over his face. “Sorry, that isn’t much of a story, huh? I’m just tired. Forget I said anything.”
“On the contrary, our dreams often show us insight into the things we want, the things we fear. Is it possible that you long to be held, but fear the intimacy that typically comes with such an embrace?”
“Low hanging fruit,” Will pronounces, for the second time in their acquaintance. “I don’t know. It’s not something I spend a lot of time thinking about. There’s just so much else, you know?”
“Uncle Jack’s killers.”
“And Abigail, and just—all of it.” He scuffs at the floor with his shoe—Hannibal has made him uncomfortable. He doesn’t mean to. At least, not all at once, and not right away, so he pulls back.
They spend the rest of Will’s session talking about the latest killer Jack has Will hunting like a bloodhound—a killer far beneath him, not even fit to lick Will’s boots, let alone take up space in the hallowed recesses of his mind.
Hannibal listens and nods, providing insight where he can. He nudges Will gently. For now his influence is limited, but he hopes in time it will grow.
* * *
Hannibal isn’t given to superstition, but he is given to the habit of indulging himself. It’s in the spirit of self-indulgence that he picks up the Will doll that lives atop his dresser. There’s no reason to think that the sensation Will described, that of being held, had anything to do with his manipulation of the doll. It’s more likely—reasonable, even—that Will’s subconscious is trying on fantasies. It’s not uncommon for patients to develop feelings for their therapist, and Hannibal has taken pains to ensure his relationship with Will is anything but strictly professional.
Still, there’s something about the idea that appeals. Something that sits right with the part of his mind that believes it is possible for shattered teacups to come together, for time to reverse.
He strokes a gentle finger down the side of Will’s face. The cheap cotton drags against his fingertip as he caresses its cheek, its temple. He rubs a finger over its small, stitched-on mouth.
There’s a little split in the seam of the doll, a place where the stitches are perhaps a bit looser, at the juncture where legs meet body. Hannibal picks at the thread idly with a thumbnail, widening the hole until it’s just large enough to slip his smallest finger inside. He amuses himself that way for a while, pushing his finger up into the stuffing of the doll then drawing it out again.
He imagines Will writhing on his bed back in Wolf Trap, perhaps moaning in his sleep, legs splayed, a creature of pure need as he reacts to Hannibal’s fingers inside him. Or perhaps Will would wake. There might be a few sweet moments of uncomplicated pleasure, Will enjoying the sensations without wondering from whence they came. Then the slow, gradually dawning horror as he realizes there’s no one there. The scramble to tear himself free of phantom fingers, from which there is no escape.
Perhaps Will would think he was losing his mind. There are a few things Hannibal could do with that.
Or perhaps it wouldn’t be pleasure at all. Perhaps scale should be taken into account—Hannibal is much larger than this little replica, Will’s form rendered in soft-bodied miniature. Taking scale into account, Hannibal would right now be crushing Will’s organs, ripping through his small intestine and spilling its poison throughout his body. He imagines Will writhing from a perforated bowel, unable to escape the ongoing assault as Hannibal’s fingers open him so lovingly.
He can’t decide which image he likes better—Will in pleasure or in pain—so he settles on both. Both living side by side in Hannibal’s mind, burning bright in a newly constructed hall that’s just for him.