The cold splash of rain on his face is both refreshing and echoes the brittle chill he feels seeping into his bones; he wants it to wash away his pain in the same way it clears the blood and tears from his face. He blinks to clear his vision and looks down dispassionately at Alana who lays gasping and bleeding on the concrete the only protection from the rain is Will’s coat draped over her. He feels a surge of resentment and jealousy, that she has been given Will’s protection and warmth when he has been robbed of it so cruelly. Feeling no ounce of remorse for the woman he leans down and pulls the coat from her, hoping that her scent has not tainted the fabric. He walks past her, heedless of her cries, pulling on the slightly ill-fitting jacket as he walks away from his life in Baltimore; from Will.
Standing in Bedelia’s bedroom he begins to shed his soaked clothing but gives pause as he holds the heavy coat in his hand. He knows that he should throw it away, cast it aside as Will has so callously done to him but he cannot convince his fingers to let the item fall to the floor. Sighing lightly at his own foolish sentimentality he picks through Bedelia’s belongings until he finds what he needs; a hanger and garment bag.
He hangs the coat up on the back of the bathroom door to dry, away from the no doubt prying eyes of his psychiatrist; she will not hesitate to comment on the clothing that is obviously not his own.
Hours later he returns to the coat, gently caressing the sleeve and feels relief at finding it dry knowing he will have to move fast in order to leave the country. He pulls the protective cover around the shoulders and straightens it across the chest. He lets the pads of his fingers linger; in his mind he had envisioned a similar scenario for tonight but it was Will’s chest he would have been covering with fresh clothes, instead he is concealing his discarded jacket in a protective cover.
He makes sure that Bedelia is otherwise occupied as he stows the precious item in his luggage.
He is thankful that his apartment in Italy is generous enough that he and Bedelia have separate wardrobes because in the very back of his, behind all the shirts, waistcoats and dinner jackets, is the stark white garment bag. It haunts him sometimes, an ever present ghost in his mind palace, trying to temp him into opening it; again.
Every time he peruses his clothing he finds himself, completely subconsciously, touching the plastic; letting his fingertips linger just long enough to feel the weight of the coat beneath before moving away. He constantly resists the urge to undo the zipper every time he touches it. He only ever takes it out when he’s desperate.
This is one such afternoon. Nothing had triggered his thoughts of Will in particular, as is usual. Will wanders into the forefront of his thoughts whenever he sees fit, sometimes with a smile or with a smirk. Sometimes he is covered in blood; whether it’s his own or belongs to someone else Hannibal doesn’t know. Sometimes he is the tormented soul before his imprisonment, sometimes the seductive man who walked into his office in that salmon shirt all those months ago. However he appears, Hannibal aches for him. Hungers for him.
Only when he feels Will’s absence as keenly as a physical wound does he indulge himself.
He closes the bedroom door softly behind him so as not to disturb Bedelia from where she is drinking herself into oblivion in the sitting room. He always does this in private. She still does not know of his secret and he wants to keep it that way. This is for no one’s eyes but his own.
He carefully retrieves the garment bag, cradling it in his arms like a lover as he lays it on the soft sheets of his bed. He lays the palm of his hand over the place where Will’s heart would have beat beneath the jacket before he even opens the bag, he always needs a moment to collect himself.
He sits gingerly beside the bag, making sure not to disturb it as he settles. His fingers dance across the harsh metal teeth of the zipper, letting them catch on his skin before moving to pull it slowly downwards; watching the silver mouth open to reveal charcoal grey of the coat cocooned inside.
He never removes it completely, just pushes the plastic aside so that the chest of it is exposed to him. For a moment he pulls his hand back and just stares at it, drinking it in and imagining that Will is wearing it standing before him; instead of the faint echo of his presence that it leaves behind.
Allowing the vision to solidify in his mind he reverently draws the pads of his fingertips across the lapel, moving them slowly to caress the neckline; his usually steady pulse jumps slightly as he touches the place where the fabric would have sat against Will’s skin.
He curls his fingers and pulls one lapel open to reveal the insides of the jacket. He spreads his fingers wide and rests his entire palm over the back of it, his skin only just contacting the material. He touches the garment as he imagines he would touch Will; a palm caressing over the wide expanse of his shoulders and down his spine.
He returns the lapel to its original position. He places his hand across the left breast, imagining he can feel Will’s strong heart beat beneath his palm; it would echo the rhythm of his own, two hearts in sync.
He breathes deeply through his nose. Thankful that Alana’s scent had not invaded the fabric in the short time she had stolen it. The only scent that lingers is Will’s and a touch of his own, twining into what remains of the younger man’s; his scent reaching for Will’s as he reaches for the man himself.
It registers that Will’s scent is slightly less potent than the last time he had allowed himself this indulgence. He feels a pang in his chest at the thought, though he expected it; it happens every single time.
Every time he gives into this impulse he loses precious particles of Will’s scent, it evaporates into the air; escaping him as Will had. The only piece of him that Hannibal has been able to bring with him is slow disintegrating, falling away like flower petals on the wind.
He allows himself one last lungful of Will’s scent and he once again caresses where his heart had rested. Then, resolutely, he stands. As he does every time, he laments the loss and feels a twinge of pain as he seals the coat away. Once again preserving Will inside the plastic cocoon.
He returns the hanger to the back of his closet, meticulously hiding it behind his other garments lest Bedelia come snooping. He closes the wardrobe with a sense of finality but he knows that it won’t be too long until he falls prey to the urge again.
He sits on his bed once more, looking down at his hands; he clasps them together in the hopes that any piece of Will’s scent that may have rubbed off onto the skin of his fingers seeps into his flesh, to his very core so that it becomes part of him, can never leave him, and he can carry Will with him always.
He rests his hands under his chin and allows himself a small smile as the faintest trace of Will’s scent indeed lingers; but it turns to sorrow because he knows that sooner or later it will disappear. Not just from his skin but sometime soon the coat will also lose all remnants of Will. He feels an unbidden tear fall from his eye as he allows dread to fill him at the thought of the day he opens the garment bag and is faced with nothing but stale air and the smell of his own skin.