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nice hannibal ficlets

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"What is it?" Will said. He poked at the dessert.

"A citrus souffle with raspberry coulis." Hannibal left his own untouched on the counter and watched Will take a bite. "You fear the loss of your mind," he said.

Will swallowed hard and barely managed to get the pudding down. "I'm afraid, but I don't know of what. This isn't-- I know the way my head works. It doesn't work great, but it's not like this. I feel like I've been invaded. Colonized."

Hannibal tapped one finger against the counter and then reached over it to press his palm to Will's forehead. Will leaned into it without thought. "You're very warm," Hannibal said. "Come with me, please."

Will picked up the plates and trailed after him. Hannibal took him down a hall and into a small room lined with books, with butterflies pinned and cased in glass, with twisted antlers that Will looked away from in a hurry. He let Hannibal settle him in a chair and stick a thermometer under his tongue and deposit a notebook and pen in his lap.

"I want you to draw a clock for me, please," Hannibal said.

Will frowned up at him.

"Humor me."

Will shrugged and drew a clock. Hannibal took the notebook from him and stared at it for longer than seemed reasonable to study a poorly drawn clock that didn't even have the right time.

"Hemispatial neglect," Hannibal said. "Time loss, hallucinations, headache." He paced to the far side of the room and back and then extracted the thermometer and looked at it. "And fever. I believe you have encephalitis. I'd like you to stay here tonight. In the morning, I'll take you to Johns Hopkins for an MRI."

Will stared at him. Hope and relief and fear that Hannibal might be wrong washed over him like breakers, and each threatened to drown him. "Just-- Just like that? How can you know?"

"I've suspected for some time, but it could have been many things. It's not impossible that the stress of your work is responsible for much of it."

"So what makes you think it's not just that?"

"Your description of the symptoms as alien. And the scent."

"What?"

"Forgive me. You were right, the other day. I have a peculiarly sensitive nose, and although it's true that it was difficult to avoid smelling you, your aftershave, though unfortunate, was not what caught my attention. Many diseases have a certain scent. Cancer can have a sour scent. Diabetics sometimes smell like acetone strongly enough for anyone to detect it."

"So...what do I smell like?"

"There is a heat that has been steadily growing over our acquaintance. A fevered sweetness that I put down originally to other causes."

"You really think I'm sick?"

"I'm almost positive."

Will leaned over and put his face in his hands. His heart hammered against his ribs until he felt the vibration in every bone in his body. "So I'm not going crazy."

"Let's at least address the physical issues first."

Will snorted. "Reassuring."

Hannibal put a hand on his shoulder and squeezed lightly. "Whatever it is, I have no intention of leaving you to deal with it alone."

And, though Will had no intention of admitting it, that was reassuring.