Will Graham was always considered something of an oddity by all who knew him. To the average person, he was a prickly, dog-hoarding, empathetic and imaginative individual who lived in the middle of nowhere and could count not only his friends, but his familiar acquaintances on one hand.
These were his human oddities.
Of course, Will Graham wasn’t actually human. He was instead a man-eating creature best known in modern horror pop culture by the moniker wendigo. While a human could certainly transform into one given enough time and willful cannibalism, wendigos could also be born from other wendigos, even when in relationships with humans.
And that was how Will came to be one.
Will knew his nature had been a source of much stress and mental strain for his human father. His wendigo mother had, whether because she wanted to or not he didn’t know, left him shortly after he was born. He was just lucky she had put his human father’s name on the birth certificate.
Discovering you have a child, and then later discovering your child is actually a man-eating monster must have been quite a shock, although Will was too young to remember his father’s reaction, or even how he found out. Instead, his first distinct memory was of his father making him his own special hamburger, and feeding it to him with the traditional airplane noises. He remembered his father was laughing, although Will now knew the meat was human, and the morality of it must have weighed on his father’s mind.
Still, even as he grew older and his empathy grew stronger, his father never let on whether or not he was disgusted by having to procure human meat for his monster son.
His father just wasn’t the type to murder anyone, even for his son, so instead he had a variety of ‘ethical’ ways to get human meat. He passed these methods and connections on to his son, along with a strong human moral compass.
To other wendigos, these things his father taught him are what made him an oddity, since most others hunted and killed their meat like the apex predators they were. Then again, most wendigos were transformed from humans who did the same, or raised in a family of wendigos who hunted and feasted together.
Will Graham, though, was raised by a sympathetic human, and preferred his meat ethical.
So, how does one go about getting ethically sourced human meat anyway?
Will’s father cultivated a relationship with a coroner who knew about the supernatural, and since the coroner had to open up bodies anyway, he would often save inner organs from the freshest corpses to give to Will. It was, unfortunately, not often enough to live off entirely - the coroner had to be careful to choose corpses of those with no one to look for them, from open-and-shut cases where the bodies were unlikely to be reexamined.
The other way was to frequent areas where people were likely to get into fatal accidents - blind corners on the highway, or cliffside roads with bad siding on the weekends when drunks were likely to drive. This was, certainly, the most difficult for his father to stomach - pulling pieces of human flesh from a cooling corpse on the side of the road.
Will took over the majority of collection and cooking duties almost as soon as he was tall enough to reach the pedals in the car, to save his father from having to do it.
Will hunted only once - in elementary school, after he accidentally saw one of his teachers coercing and raping female students, abusing his position of authority. He stalked the man back to his apartment, snuck in through the open bathroom window and tore the man’s throat out. Then he gorged himself on the man’s body, eating almost every piece.
After he was done, he sat amongst the blood and pieces of flesh, wearing his inky monster skin feeling bloated and heavy. Will had no idea what to do about the mess, so he snuck back out the window and went home, covered in blood.
He was extremely lucky no one saw him.
When the news broke, the police investigated it as a freak animal attack, despite all the inconsistencies, because they couldn’t figure out what else it could be. He remembered his father reading the paper in the kitchen when the story broke, pausing and looking directly at Will, who had felt full for days after his kill, with a disappointed stare.
“Don’t do that again,” he said.
“But papa, he was a very bad man,” Will cried. He didn’t often have to face his father’s disappointment.
His father clenched his teeth and looked down. He couldn’t deny that he’d been a very bad person. Most people would probably say he deserved to die, preying on young girls like he did. Finally, his father just said, “Humans deserve human justice.”
Will never hunted again.
And there were other dangers. Although wendigos were very difficult to kill, being faster, and stronger and having better senses than the average human, it wasn’t impossible. Some humans, naturally, didn’t take kindly to creatures hunting them, and the news report was a giant red flag to people who knew what to look for.
His father decided they would move.
Moving around made procuring meat difficult. There weren’t miracle coroners in the know in every town, and it often took time to find the kinds of places where people got into accidents. Will sometimes remembered how it felt, to feel so full he was was almost sick with it, and bitterly regretted his impulsiveness.
He regretted it more when he realized exactly how much his father sacrificed when times were lean. When they couldn’t get human meat, and Will started to look hungry despite supplementing his diet with other food, he would sometimes wake up to his father cooking thin strips of fresh, tasty human flesh.
It took Will into his teens to realize it was his father’s, taken in small amounts from his thighs - a sacrifice of desperation and love that his father never talked about.
Will wrapped his father’s love around himself like a blanket, and used it to keep his hungers and urges at bay even after his father died.
Will had just moved out when he was contacted by his mother’s family. They were a family of wendigos that lived in the South, and apparently they had finally realized that he existed.
They talked on the phone, and they lamented that he was ruined by his father - he would never be able to join the family if he insisted on scavenging human parts like a rat. They invited him to come to their hunting lodge. Bring the human, they said, we can have him for the main course.
Will, enraged, told them to fuck off and never contact him again.
It was his human morality that led Will to become a cop. He had a strong sense of justice, and if humans deserved human justice, then Will could assist the humans in executing their justice.
He was a good cop, even if he didn’t socialize much. It was good too since he could easily access the coroner and make connections there. His fridge was full more often than not, and he felt content with his life.
Then he met other wendigos, and some hunters.
Him and his partner were chasing after a wendigo pair - though of course they didn’t know that. Will thought he smelled something kind of strange - like old blood and something else - when they investigated, but he had no frame of reference for identifying the scent.
One wendigo’s claws raked into his partner almost the moment they burst in. Will had his gun raised, but froze when he saw them - two wendigos, wearing their inky monster skin, their antlers stretching regally above them.
He lunged for his partner, trying to stop the bleeding.
One of them sniffed the air, and tilted their head in confusion. “You’re one of us, why don’t you eat with us little one? Why are you saving the little police rat?”
Will breathed heavily and couldn’t answer. Of course he felt the urge to eat - his partner had a gaping wound and the tantalizing scent of blood was filling his senses. But he wouldn’t, he couldn’t - not only because of his father and his rules, but also because Will couldn’t fathom eating someone he knew, someone he was friendly with. It would be like the average human eating their dog - of course some people might do it in a desperate situation, but it would have to be really, really desperate before the value of the meat outweighed the pleasure of the dog’s company.
Turns out, attending to his partner probably saved him. Hunters came, and they brutally cut down the two wendigos, pinning them to the floor with chains.
Then they cut their heads off with chainsaws.
Will swallowed down his bile as the two screamed, knowing that could easily be him.
After it was done, the leader crouched by him and told him to call for backup. It was a mess, he said, but they had connections in the local police department, and the incident would get swept under the rug. No one would know about the wendigos, and the incident would get called a shooting gone wrong.
His partner was dead by now, of course, but Will couldn’t help keeping his hand pressed over the wound, trying to stop the blood. He looked at his partner’s slack face rather than look at the hunter. He was gasping for breath.
“Look, kid,” the hunter finally said, handing him a card, “Call me if you want to talk about it. I realize it’s a shock now, but you’ve got training and we can always use some more competent people in the know.”
Will took the card with bloody, shaking hands, and didn’t look up until the paramedics arrived.
He never called the number, of course, but he did make note of the hunter’s name, so he knew who to watch out for.
He also quit his job. The incident got labelled as an arrest gone really wrong, and the note on his file said he had failed to fire his gun, even though his partner was mortally wounded by the suspects. He had even more trouble fitting in at the precinct. In the end, he decided that maybe he should try joining the FBI.
He didn't make it.
He probably shouldn’t have tried so soon after the incident. He was still shaken up, and really had no one he could talk to about why. Sure, lots of people would be there to talk about his grief at losing his partner, but there was no one he could discuss his terror at seeing the other wendigos slaughtered casually before his eyes with.
And frankly, that was what gave him screaming night terrors those days.
The FBI didn’t want him as an agent, but they recognized his abilities as a profiler based on his record, and together with his credentials it was enough that they offered him a teaching position at the academy.
So, Will built his life - at home, in Wolf Trap, and at work, as a lecturer. He found it harder than ever to get human meat, but he also felt unmotivated to feed himself adequately. When he was starved, his senses dulled, his body weakened, and he felt very human. His empathy didn’t dull any, but because he received less information from his senses, he wasn’t as bothered by it.
He avoided other wendigos like the plague.
He knew he looked sickly and gaunt, but he hid behind layers of clothes and scruffy appearance, and kept his head down. He played with his dogs, cooked regular, human food, and sporadically enjoyed human meat when his coroner connection called.
He existed for a long time like that.
Hannibal Lecter was not born a wendigo. He became one somewhat unwittingly, although he certainly had no complaints. His desire to hunt, kill, and consume humans led him to begin changing in his twenties. It was not a quick thing. He first noticed the changes when his claws began to emerge during his kills, making holding his scalpel difficult. The black claws soon led to his skin changing when he killed or ate, and finally, one painful evening, his antlers emerging.
Hannibal, being a creature of extreme self control, soon learned how to hide his monster, zipping it away behind a person suit. His dietary requirements were no hardship, although the frequency with which he had to eat human meat caused some trouble in the beginning. He certainly couldn’t publicly kill as often as he needed to in order to eat well, which led him to settle in Baltimore and renovate his basement into a secret kill room. As with when he was human, he hunted rude pigs he encountered every day with the assurance that he had transformed himself into a superior being, one made to consume the lesser beings that surrounded him.
Though Hannibal thought he must be something like what humans called a wendigo, actually he had very little idea. He never met another one of his kind that he knew of, and for all he could tell, he could be the only one. The idea of being unique certainly fed his ego, although he knew it was likely there were at least some others. He was not the only cannibal in the world, after all.
Not even the only cannibal in Baltimore, although those who ate at his table didn’t know that they were.
At first, it had been an experiment - could he force others to transform, as he had? - and when it failed to produce results, he simply enjoyed his little joke of feeding the pigs to the blind sheep.
Will Graham’s existence was abruptly altered by Jack Crawford, and eight dead girls.
And one Doctor Hannibal Lecter.
Of course, he didn’t realize what Doctor Lecter was at first - his sense of smell was too dull to pick up his wendigo scent unless Will stood right next to him - but he certainly figured it out when he was given breakfast.
He’d originally tried it to be polite, but after the first bite he paused, tilting his head at the taste of delicious human meat. Very fresh.
He ate the rest. Beggars couldn’t be choosers, after all, and he was hungry. He could smell Lecter now.
And yet, Lecter said nothing overt the entire conversation. He must know. Right? Why else would Lecter feed him human meat, unless he knew? And here they were, alone, having a conversation. It would be the perfect time to bring it up, but instead they were bantering back and forth, the conversation staying on safe, human topics.
“Just keep it professional,” Will said. He avoided his kind for this long, he didn’t want to be friends with someone who was more than likely the type to hunt and murder humans rather than scavenge parts.
“I don’t find you that interesting,” Lie. He found Lecter very interesting, actually. Will just wanted him to be interesting far away from here.
Will decided he wasn’t going to be the one to bring it up. It was probably childish, stubborn behaviour all things considered, but Will was feeling childish and stubborn about Lecter. He didn’t need a babysitter, and he certainly didn’t need a wendigo babysitter, especially if said wendigo babysitter wasn’t even going to bring up their shared monster status.
But, something twigged in his brain about Lecter’s scent. He felt like he’d smelled it before, probably on a dead body. If Lecter was leaving bodies around where he’d seen them, even if he couldn’t remember which exactly because of how dull his senses had been for so many years, how was he hiding his nature? Lecter was proving to be a different beast than other wendigos he’d encountered, and Will didn’t like it.
Most wendigos either hunted quietly, and consumed everything to stay under the radar, or else were impulsive and wild, and got caught and killed by hunters in fairly short order. Those that were controlled still tended to stay outside of human society, because being around humans all the time was just a temptation most didn’t need. Will was strange not only in his humanity but also his iron control over his hungers, even when surrounded by prey.
Still, the temptation was partially why he chose to live in the middle of nowhere. Out in Wolf Trap, he could relax his control, because there was no one around to hunt. How could Lecter live in the middle of the city, surrounded by prey all the time?
Will decided he needed to get better about eating properly. If Lecter was going to be around - and Will couldn’t exactly explain to Jack that he didn’t want to be around Lecter because he was a man-eating monster without also explaining that Will himself was a man-eating monster - then Will needed to be in top form.
And yes, Will did indeed find Lecter terribly, unfortunately interesting.
In Minnesota, Will tried to act friendly but kept a careful eye on Lecter. His empathy wasn’t doing much for him - hard to pick up anything from someone with such tight control over their expressions - but he’d gotten the feeling that Lecter was a master manipulator.
Will didn’t leave him alone, not even when Lecter, with uncharacteristic clumsiness, spilled one of the boxes. He asked the rather unhelpful woman to please pick the papers up and joined Lecter in the office, offering to help with as much innocence as he could muster. He might have imagined it, but he thought he saw Lecter’s mouth turn down in slight displeasure. Whatever play he’d been intending to make, Will had stopped it.
When they arrived at the Hobbs house, Will subtly stretched his body. Hobbs probably wasn’t a wendigo yet, despite the cannibalism, but he might be on his way to transforming given how many girls he’d killed. Will was ready for a fight.
He asked Lecter to stay in the car, and knocked. The daughter, the ‘golden ticket’ answered the door. If he needed further proof that this was the Shrike, he could smell a hint of wendigo scent and human meat coming from the house.
He decided to start professional, but not be obvious. He’d been pretty deep in Hobbs’ head, and he felt that if Hobbs was warned, there could be a bloodbath. “Hello, I’m looking for Garrett Jacob Hobbs. Is he home?”
The daughter looked him up and down, taking in his shabby clothes before clearly deciding he wasn’t interesting, and she turned around, shouting “Dad, it’s for you,” before walking away.
Hobbs came to the door. The smell of fledgling wendigo was stronger, but Will didn’t think he was finished transforming yet.
“Mr. Hobbs? I’m Special Agent Will Graham with the FBI. I’d like to…”
Almost as soon as the words ‘FBI’ came out of his mouth, Hobbs’ claws started to emerge, and his skin started to turn inky black. He snarled and lunged for Will, claws aimed for his throat.
Will grabbed Hobbs hands and stumbled into the wall from Hobbs’ weight. Guess a few days of good meals couldn’t erase years of starvation, but Will still felt he had the upper hand. Will used all his supernatural strength to snap Hobbs’ wrists up at an impossible angle to break them, and tore himself away when Hobbs screamed.
“Get down on the ground!” Will yelled, pulling out his gun, “Get down!”
But Hobbs was practically feral from the pain, and tried to jump at him again, bearing sharp teeth. Will fired his gun again, and again, and again, and again - until it clicked empty and he finally realized that Hobbs was down.
A full wendigo would be pretty hurt by that many bullets, but probably wouldn’t die. But Hobbs wasn’t a full wendigo, and Will panted hard as he saw the blackness bleed out of Hobbs’ skin, his claws receding into human fingernails. He was laying on the ground choking out his last breaths as Mrs. Hobbs and the daughter came running. It must have only been seconds since Hobbs yelled out, but Will felt like time was stretched and thin.
Afterwards, Lecter corroborated his version of events: Hobbs tried to attack Will almost as soon as he came to the door, and Will defended himself. The number of shots was excessive, but only natural considering Will was a shaky, unstable teacher rather than a real FBI agent.
Will didn’t know how he felt about it.
He didn’t feel bad about killing Hobbs, exactly - he’d followed protocol as much as protocol gets followed in that kind of situation. Hobbs attacked, he defended himself. Hobbs, unfortunately, ended up dead and couldn’t answer all the lingering questions people had about the case, causing extra scrutiny to fall on the widowed Mrs. Hobbs and the daughter Abigail. Will felt bad that they had to go through all that. He thought it likely that Abigail was helping her father lure in girls to kill, but he smelled no wendigo scent around her, so she must not have known that Hobbs was feeding them to her and her mother.
Why did Hobbs feed the girls to his family? Was it just avoiding waste? Did Hobbs think he could transform the rest of his family as he was being transformed, once he noticed?
Will supposed he would never know.
Will went to see Lecter for his psychological evaluation, despite his misgivings. Everyone liked Lecter because he’s just so charming, and Will just wanted to get it over with. He was leery of putting himself under Lecter’s thumb - Lecter could easily use the opportunity to get Will fired and force him to move away from Lecter’s hunting territory.
And then - “Your psychological evaluation. You are totally functional and more or less sane. Well done.”
Will was surprised. If Lecter knew Will was a wendigo, why was he giving up control over Will so easily? Most wendigos didn’t want others in their territory unless they were family or mates, but Lecter was treating him like a skittish human he was trying to lure home, rather than a fellow predator.
“I was surprised when Hobbs’ strange transformation didn’t appear in your report,” Lecter remarked.
Will turned to stare down at him in disbelief, frustrated by Lecter’s obtuseness, although he still couldn’t tell if it was real or feigned.
He was fed up with dancing around the subject.
“Well, I certainly don’t want to get on a hunter’s radar, Doctor Lecter, and I have a lot less reason to be worried about it than you do,” Will bit out.
Lecter paused and tilted his head, a strange expression of wary confusion crossing his face, “What do you mean?”
Will was getting more evidence on the side of ‘didn’t know’. He sighed in frustration, and hopped over the rail to land lightly in front of Lecter. “I’m beginning to think you’ve never met another one before.”
Lecter’s eyes were lit with more genuine interest and emotion than Will had ever seen him display. Yes, Lecter was ignorant, and apparently had never met another wendigo, but he certainly wasn’t stupid. The pieces were falling into place. Lecter stepped forward, “As a matter of fact, I haven’t. You…?” He trailed off.
Will thought it must be a very rare thing for Hannibal Lecter to be speechless, and he practically rolled his eyes as he let his monster skin show. His antlers arched above him and he straightened to look Lecter in the eye.
Lecter gazed at him with something like wonder and obsession, and Will wondered if maybe he had been too hasty in showing all his cards.
Well, he wasn’t exactly a patient person anyway.
When Lecter showed his monster, Will couldn’t help but admire his regal bearing. Lecter held his head high, displaying his antlers with pride, practically preening at the opportunity to peacock a little.
After contemplating each other’s true forms for a while, Lecter offer him some wine, and they sat. Will had a moment where he realized that this was perhaps the very thing he had been attempting to avoid for so long - two monsters having a conversation over a glass of merlot.
Will took a sip and then frowned in confusion, “I have to ask, if you didn’t know what I was when we first met, then why did you feed me human meat for breakfast?”
Lecter looked somewhat shifty. Either he wasn’t as good at hiding his expressions in this form, or maybe he just trusted Will enough to show his emotions more openly now. Will wasn’t sure which he preferred. “Something of an amusement for me, nothing more,” Lecter replied.
Will’s eyebrows rose, “You feed people to humans?”
“Upon occasion,” said Lecter easily.
Will snorted and looked away, “You must have figured out by now that unknowing cannibalism can’t start the transformation."
“Yes, which is why I call it just an amusement.”
Will thought about that. It wasn’t really hurting them, he supposed. There was an element of magic to wendigos that caused human meat to be the only good source of nutrition for them, but for humans human meat wasn’t really that different from any other kind of meat. While Will was sure everyone would be horrified if they knew, he couldn’t, and wouldn’t, tell them.
“I have some questions of my own, Will,” Lecter began. “To be honest, I hadn’t thought you an experienced killer. Your reaction to killing Hobbs implied it was quite a traumatic experience.”
Will sniffed and ran a hand over his mouth. He’d probably disappoint Lecter with his answer. If Lecter thought he’d found a hunting partner, he was mistaken. “I’m not an experienced killer. Hobbs was only the second time I’ve ever killed someone.”
Lecter leaned back slightly. Yes, he looked disappointed. “But, how did you transform? How do you eat?”
“I didn’t transform. I’ve always been a wendigo.” Lecter shifted subtly forward again. Oh, apparently that was very interesting. “And I don’t hunt. I usually scavenge, I have connections at the coroner’s office, among other things.”
Lecter contemplated that for a long moment. “So you’ve never hunted?”
“Once,” Will said. “I was ten. A teacher at my school was… a very bad person, so I stalked him to his house. I gorged myself on him, but the kill was too obvious. Hunters came to look for me and my father and I had to start moving around. My father asked me to never hunt again. He could deal with having a man-eating monster for a son, but having a murdering, man-eating monster would have weighed on his conscience too much. I haven’t hunted since, except for hunting killers for the FBI.”
“Your father wasn’t one?” asked Lecter.
“No, my father was human. I can only assume my mother was a wendigo, but I never knew her.” Will replied.
Will wanted to move on to the topic that was interesting for him, even if the basic background on wendigos as a species might be interesting for Lecter.
He shifted in his seat and asked, “So, what are we going to do about us, anyway?”
Lecter pulled out of his thoughts, “What do you mean?”
“Well,” Will began, “This is your hunting ground, I assume. Does your territory include Wolf Trap and Quantico? Do I have to leave the area? If you want to make this a territory dispute, I’ll probably lose, although it will be hard to explain to Jack why I have to move away.”
Lecter looked surprised, “Why would I want you to leave?”
“Wendigos don’t usually allow other wendigos to live in their territory unless they’re family, Doctor Lecter,” Will said.
“Hannibal please, Will,” started Lecter, “And I don’t mind you being here so I don’t see why you should have to move. But, if I may, I would like to request that you join me for dinner once a week. I have further questions about our species, and you can of course speak to me about your cases, as you have been.”
Will swallowed. It seemed like Lecter was hoping to cultivate a friendship with him, which was almost unheard of for them. But, Lecter was also being particularly gracious in allowing him to stay, so Will couldn’t exactly refuse.
“Unless I have to be somewhere for a case, I accept. Hannibal.”