BEEN A SON
Jack Crawford had a terrible habit of showing up at Wolf Trap far too early in the morning. He was that special brand of Alpha, overbearing, like a drill sergeant even in his civilian life, a rolling beast of a man who faced every obstacle with the full intention of smashing it out of the way rather than wait for the time to push it. He rammed his huge fist on the screen door, sending Will's pack cowering into the kitchen at the back of the little house.
Will groaned, and rolled on his side, not wanting to get out of bed. He could hear Jack shouting his name and cursing when he wasn't getting an answer. He'd break his damn door down by this point, and Will wasn't about to let his property be destroyed by Jack's Alpha impatience. "Just hold on a minute!" he shouted out his open bedroom window, and the pounding on his door thankfully ceased.
Will tossed the covers to one side and grabbed a pair of grubby jeans that he'd dropped on the floor the night before, along with an equally dirty t-shirt. He was half asleep as he staggered down his stairs, the outline of Jack a thick shadow against the thin curtains of his front window. He was still rubbing the sleep out of his eyes when he opened the door and silently bid Jack to come in.
"Not a morning guy, I'm guessing," Jack said.
Will yawned. "Not on my days off, no."
He didn't bother asking Jack what he was doing at his home because Will already knew, it was in evidence in Jack's steely gaze, his firm posture and the way he refused to take off his wool coat. It was a balmy winter day, but not an overly cold one and Will was already stoking his fireplace back into life. Jack was overdressed, uncomfortable, ready to fight. Alphas like Jack liked to stay well and above their subordinates, and Will knew this was no friendly visit.
"I want to talk about the Ripper case." Ah yes, there it was, predictable and pushy. Jack stepped closer to Will, his wide nostrils flaring as he took in Will's crossed arms and aloof, bored attitude. "We need to solve this and fast. I was on the phone with Purnell this morning and she's on fire thanks to a meeting with Governor McBain. The death of a couple of Alpha creeps who deflowered Omegas isn't usually worth caring about, but the Governor is making this a part of his 'Make A Family' campaign."
It was too early in the morning to feel sickened by politics. "Purnell is backing that guy?"
"She doesn't have a choice right now, and the politics are irrelevant to the FBI. She doesn't want to waste manpower on his future plans either, but he's the one set to win in the next election and we got to go where the money is."
Will shrugged. "How are his policies any of the FBI's business?"
"As you know, his platform is to crack down on Alphas who keep using Omega wives for sex instead of babies. He wants to make a mandatory minimum three child per household law. Guess who will be enforcing that."
Will groaned again and padded into his kitchen, pulling out a ragged looking box of orange juice. It was the only item in his fridge. He drank from the carton in front of Jack and wiped his mouth with the hem of his t-shirt. "Governor McBain is a whack job."
"Yes, and right now he's responsible for sending cheques to our department. I know he's an idiot, Will, but if we make him happy we can make Purnell happy which makes me ecstatic and you..."Jack helplessly shrugged, unable to figure out just what, exactly, happiness was for Will Graham. Will couldn't blame him, he wasn't sure himself. "We'll be saving lives, it's a win all over."
Will fought the urge to roll his eyes. He had to wonder what Governor McBain would think if he knew the man who was destined to take down the dreaded Alpha killer known as the Chesapeake Ripper was an unbonded Alpha who had no intention of impregnating anyone. He certainly didn't want to make more little miserable versions of himself and if McBain got his way and the new law was passed, Will would be mandated to at least have a couple of kids outside of bonding just to meet the Alpha quota. It was a huge breach of personal freedom, and its purpose was equally grim--a misguided attempt by the current pundits in power to create more Alphas within their population.
Right now the statistics were heavily on the Beta side, with female Omegas at five percent, and Alpha females at ten and male Alphas at fifteen percent. The rest were all Beta, save for the tiniest of slivers that were male Omegas and were so small in the equation they barely counted towards the statistic. The current government was aiming to have at least half the population have the Alpha phenotype, and half of that quote to be pure Alphas. Quite a busy task for the average Omega female to achieve, she'd have to be pumping out babies like a factory manufacturing paper clips.
The whole ethos was depressing and ignorant, with studies from other, less progressive countries showing evidence that this kind of tampering only tipped the scales in favour of Betas even more and in some cases upped the tiny percentage of barren, male Omegas. The vanity of an Alpha Nation, however, didn't care to hear the voices of scientific reason. There were even clinics getting set up to ensure all Alpha and Beta unions created Alpha babies and prevented recessive Betas through gene therapy. A little bit Alpha was better than none at all.
The whole thing sat sick in the well of Will's stomach, and here was Jack Crawford, telling him to just bring down the Chesapeake Ripper already and make the whole world a happy, bouncing baby Alpha place.
Jack must have discerned the permanent scowl on Will's face had little to do with the murders themselves and more about the political motivations behind the need to have it solved. He straightened up and gave Will's little nest of a home a good once over, taking in the messy, dog hair strewn couch, the stains and cobwebs on the walls. As he breathed in he grimaced, his nose wrinkling at the unpleasant funk of Will's lingering body odour and old, dirty laundry. Will's home was a fetid place of neglect, a hovel he only slept and occasionally ate in and didn't really derive any kind of grand pleasure from. Get him hunting or fishing, however, and he was into the woods like he was made of leaves, the earthy elements swallowing him up and making him a faun in the reeds along the shore of the lake behind the house. He was so at home in the outdoors the forest practically handed him a lyre. A growling, scowling Pan.
"You know, Will, you do live a pretty isolated life out here," Jack said, his grim assessment of Will's lifestyle saying all the other words he didn't dare speak, like 'You're one stinky Alpha, Graham. Could it kill you to swipe a broom around the floor once in a while? You should get an Omega in here, fix up the place, make it a happy little home. Maybe she could cook a meal or two for you so you'd stop looking like a sick twig with muscle. What's with all these damn dogs? Unstable. That's the kind of Alpha who lives in filth like this. Look at that, there's a sock on the floor. Will Graham needs help.'
Suddenly self conscious, Will snatched the errant sock from the bottom of the stairs and tossed it in the large pile of dirty laundry near the front door. "I like my own company," Will tersely replied. He pushed his large glasses up his nose, avoiding eye contact with Jack. His hackles were going up and he didn't want a confrontation that would end in blows...or worse. "You didn't come here to see if how I lived would fit the cover of Style At Home Magazine. I've given you what you need so far on the Ripper murders, it's all in my notes if you've forgotten so quickly."
Jack ignored Will's barbed response and rubbed his gloved hands together as though he felt a chill. "How did your assessment with Dr. Lecter go yesterday?"
Will narrowed his eyes at this, a small pace beginning behind Jack at the question. "I guess it was okay. I'm seeing him for another, what did he call it? 'Meeting' tomorrow."
"That's good to hear." Jack raised a brow, a semblance of being friendly that Will definitely didn't feel. "I'm glad to hear you two are getting along. It's not always the case with two Alphas in a confined space."
"You mean like right now?" Will quipped.
Jack heavily sighed at this. "Will, I'm not your enemy here. I just need to know if this guy, if Dr. Lecter, has was it takes to help you and the only person who really knows that is you." He placed a hand on Will's shoulder, and Will bristled at the touch. "I need you to be strong, Will. The way you're meant to be."
He didn't get it. Jack never did. He didn't understand the latent urges that bubbled just under the surface, his need to pursue murderers more out of a personal fixation than a need to help his fellow man. Frankly, Will could care less about other human beings, they were presumptive and always trying to get into his personal space. The longer he spent around the team he was forced to interact with, the more he wanted to lash out.
Still, Dr. Lecter had been an oddly calming influence and he found himself looking forward to seeing him again, no small feat right there. He was a muted sort of person, Will thought, a being comprised of impressions more than actual solidity. Dr. Lecter gave off a slightly Alpha scent, which suggested to Will he was no purebred like he himself was, some of his pheromones mixed heavily with an unknown influence which, to Will's keen sense, was artificially chemical in composition. Dr. Lecter probably used pheromone supplements as an Alpha contraceptive, which Will found interesting. He didn't detect any Beta hormones lurking around suggesting an affair, just that weird non-scent, but it was clear Dr. Lecter had enough Alpha in him to pass, and maybe it was this that made Will take pause, the lack of scent something his instincts wanted to investigate if solely for the novelty.
"How long have you known Dr. Lecter?" Will found himself asking.
"I don't," Jack said. "It was Dr. Alana Bloom who suggested he'd be a good match for your specific needs. She studied beneath him at the University, he was her professor."
That familiar angry crawl began snaking its way up the back of Will's head yet again. "What 'needs' are you talking about, Jack?"
"Will..." Jack sighed, and Will could tell the Alpha was becoming impatient with him, his scent morphing with his growing frustration. "The last time you were out in the field you attacked a police officer--you broke his nose and gave him two black eyes and fractured his jaw. Dr. Lecter is there to be your marker when things get out of control in your head. He's kind of, I don't know, a guide for you."
Will's spoke through clenched teeth. "That police officer contaminated a crime scene. I couldn't get a handle on the killer's perspective as a result. It made me a little testy."
"You were out of control," Jack said, his voice dark. "Dr. Lecter is meant to be your key so that won't happen again."
Fat chance of that, Will thought, for he knew himself better than anyone and once he immersed himself in the murderer's salacious thoughts he wasn't truly responsible for the casualties that might happen when people didn't respect what he did and ignorantly invaded his space.
But Will knew he couldn't tell Jack this, and if he wanted to believe that Dr. Lecter was his magic pill against any future unstable Will Graham episodes, well the good doctor could be the one to clean up this de'pouille. So instead of arguing the point, Will cricked his neck, and plastered on a small smile he thought looked more genuine than menacing and turned it on Jack. "It'll be good to know someone's there to watch my back."
Jack smiled back and nodded at this, his hand coming down unbidden on Will's shoulder. Again. "That's what we're there for, Will. We're glad you're on the team."
He couldn't get away from these early mornings. He could hear his cell phone buzzing beside his ear and he rolled onto his side, the dream he'd had still clinging to him in aching tendrils that tugged at his spine. There were long antlers embedded in his back, he thought, and he sleepily tried to touch them, and was surprised to only find damp skin, In the dream his skin was ripped as the antlers jutted out of his back, blood seeping out of the thick wounds. In a half awake daze he realized he'd been sweating through another night, and there was a vague recollection of a large black stag pacing along the back of his skull. His t-shirt and shorts were soaked through, evidence of spontaneous, nocturnal arousal. He'd have to change the sheets.
He was still thinking this, half conscious as he answered his cell phone and mumbled an obligatory "Hello?" into it. There was silence for a long moment, and Will almost hung up before a familiar, sharp and clearly wide awake voice found its way through.
Not 'good morning'. Not 'how's it going'. Not even 'hey, you lazy asshole, get up'. Just 'Will'. Like his name alone was already too much weight on his tongue. Will huffed loudly and slid onto his side, a feeling of deja vu overtaking him as he thought on how similar this was to how he'd awoken yesterday, when Jack Crawford had come for his impromptu visit and nearly slammed his door off of its hinges. Will rubbed his sleepy eyes with the heel of his hand and blearily stared at the clock at his bedside. Six-thirty in the morning. What the hell was wrong with everyone, didn't they believe in life after eight a.m.?
"It's..Early..." Will replied.
"And so the early bird gets the worm," the chipper, accented voice on the other end cheerfully replied. "Jack has requested both of us to be present at the lab at Quantico in a couple of hours. As I am situated in Baltimore and am currently heading in your direction, I will pick you up."
Will was still half asleep. He could hear dogs snoring and he wished he was one of them. Perhaps he was, his tongue felt hairy enough. The whiskey had gone down easy last night but it had woke up rough. "You don't have to put yourself out, Dr. Lecter."
"It is of no inconvenience to me, I insist. I have also taken the liberty of making us breakfast. Protein scramble and a thermos of coffee. Nothing starts the day better."
Will sighed as he sat up, Winston giving him a dirty look as Will's movements disturbed his sleep. The dog tossed his head back down onto the mattress as Will got up and headed for the bathroom. "Yeah. Sure. Breakfast."
"Not a morning person, I take it."
"You sound just like Jack."
Will let out a little chuckle at this. He frowned, his bare feet padding across the sandy wooden floors of his little house, the tap at his bathroom sink turned on with one hand while the cell phone still lay plastered against his cheek with the other. "I can hear traffic. Are you driving here right now?"
"I am already pulling into your driveway."
Will let his cell phone drop to his side as he cupped the running cold water and swallowed, his dry tongue still clinging to alcohol and sleep. He turned off the tap, his mind not quite registering the headlights illuminating the gloom of his house on an early winter morning. He didn't even have time to wipe his face let alone shower, and in curious question he made his way down the stairs to the main floor, where his lazy dogs raised their own heads and thought about barking, only for Will's sharp look to be enough to prevent them from starting their usual din. He heard the slam of a car door and then the long, even steps up his front porch as Dr. Hannibal Lecter made his way through the unlocked front door, a thermos of coffee and Tupperware in hand, as promised. He was as perfectly put together as the first time Will had met him, not a hair out of place, his expensive suit just as pressed and clean, his winter Burberry coat hanging with long lines on his elegant frame and not a wrinkle to be seen. The whole ensemble, the pieces put together this splendidly, hit Will as an almost OCD tendency with the man. He had to have got up pretty damned early to become this perfect, it took over two hours to get to Will's house in Wolf Trap, Virginia from Baltimore.
Will took the thermos of coffee from Dr. Lecter and couldn't help the small wince over the jolt of electricity that suddenly sparked up his arm as his fingers lightly touched the doctor's wrist. If Dr. Lecter felt it, he didn't react, his eyes strangely cold and impassive as he looked down at Will. He held out the Tupperware container, as though it were a challenge.
"I believe a good morning is in order. This will need reheating. I am not partial to microwaves and would prefer to use a double boiler stovetop method that is far more effective. You look flushed, Will, as though you've run a marathon in your sleep. I assume dreams keep you busy, it is no wonder you are not an early riser."
Will raised a brow at the doctor as he began rummaging for pots he could use to reheat breakfast to his specifications. Really, the fussy pomp of it was overtly aggressive, and it took Will all he had not to just wrench the container open and start digging into it with his fingers, eating it cold just to see how Dr. Lecter would react.
"I did have some weird ones last night," Will cryptically replied. He shook his head and smiled. "You know, Dr. Lecter, this whole thing is not necessary, we could easily have picked up breakfast along the way to Quantico."
"I am very particular about what I put into my body. As I had mentioned to you in our initial meeting, I am a very good cook. Roadside nutrition holds no appeal." He put a small amount of water into one pot and then snugly fit another of similar size above it before spilling the contents of the Tupperware container into it. He affixed a pot lid on top that Will didn't even know he owned before tackling the thermos of coffee. Will held out his hand, bidding Dr. Lecter to stop.
"I'm pretty sure I can manage pouring coffee, Dr. Lecter."
Will earned a warm smile at this, the cold sheen in the doctor's maroon gaze equally thawed. "I am overstepping. This is your home. I take my coffee black with two sugars. Will, please...Call me Hannibal."
Will opened his cupboard doors and took out a couple of sad looking mugs with chipped handles. He ran them under hot water in the sink to shake out the dust that had accumulated in them from disuse. "I don't exactly get a lot of company," he said, by way of apology. He ran his fingers through his still damp hair before unscrewing the cap of the thermos. "If I'm a little slow on the social graces, you're just going to have to forgive me." He didn't have any sugar, other than packets he'd stolen from gas station coffee on the way into work. He tore open a couple and stirred it into Hannibal's coffee before shoving it along the counter towards him.
Hannibal was a tad too close behind him, and Will wasn't sure why the proximity bothered him, especially since he instinctively knew there was no Alpha posturing threat behind it. But he was definitely in Will's personal space, and wasn't exactly moving out of it, the feelings such a closeness generated confusing. He heard a sharp intake of air against the back of his neck and what sounded like a halted, surprised sigh. Will frowned, the spoon still idly stirring the sugar in Hannibal's cup of coffee.
"Did you just...Smell me?"
Hannibal hesitated. Will could feel the cold absence as the psychiatrist straightened up and quickly moved away from him. "I have highly tuned olfactory senses."
"Most Alphas do," Will reminded him.
"Yes, but mine is keenly attuned to a body's chemistry. You've had night terrors, Will. I can smell the lingering fear of it on you. How long has this been going on?"
Will sipped at his coffee, which he took black. "Since I've started working the Ripper case. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't getting under my skin in a pretty deep way. I keep wanting to understand him, to get into his head space and frankly, it's my subconscious that does the best work for that. But there's staying power every time my mind goes there." Will stared into the black depths of his coffee, his own reflection dark within it. "Going to the lab will be difficult. What I see in my dreams tends to spill over into the immediate reality and it kind of freaks people out. Lab work has never been my forte, I'll be seeing the bodies out of context and that's the last thing the Ripper wants. It mutes his vision, and it's his anger at this I'll pick up on." Will sighed and took another gulp of his coffee, glancing at the stacked pots on his stove. "Is it ready?"
"I believe so. Do you have plates, Will?"
"A couple of old plastic bowls I use for camping, will they do?"
"In a pinch." Hannibal continued to smile as he portioned out breakfast, ensuring Will had a very ample amount. He grabbed a fork from Will's cutlery drawer and handed the small, blue plastic bowl full of steaming eggs, red bell peppers and wedges of sausage to him, all of it lightly seasoned in mouth watering goodness. "I make the sausage myself," Hannibal proudly proclaimed. "It's a recipe I find compliments this dish quite well."
Will took a few bites and he couldn't help but agree. His stomach hungrily ached for the meal, a feeling he hadn't had for a very long time, since he was a kid in Louisiana, living in poverty on the bayou and getting fattened up by his grandmother, an Omega with a distinctively pioneer sensibility when it came to homesteading on the swamp. Will took large bites and couldn't stop the hum of bliss that erupted from his throat. "This is really good," he said.
"The fact that you enjoy it makes my efforts all the better for having brought this to you. I have noticed you have a certain lack in your personal care, notably your diet, and I hope you don't find it presumptive of me to take care of it."
Will smiled as he wolfed down the last few bites, the scrambled eggs buttery on his tongue, mingling with the smoky flavour of the sausages in perfection. "You can take care of me all you want if it means I get meals like this." Will swallowed his last bite and frowned over what he'd just said, the awkwardness of saying something like that to a fellow Alpha not lost on Hannibal. He gave Hannibal a sidelong glance, not meeting his steady, rather amused, gaze that held hints of red within it. "That came out all wrong, sorry. I...I guess the conversation I had with Jack yesterday is still sitting on my mind like a big, fat rock. Jack told me his superiours want the investigation ramped up due to Governor McBain's political interests in the case."
Hannibal's tone was serious. "From what I understand, he wants to make mandatory bonding for Alphas and Omegas a federal law, eliminating choice. A rather problematic stance for confirmed bachelors such as you and myself."
"Governor McBain can kiss my ass," Will asserted. "It's thanks to ignorant idiots like him that I'm forced to constantly justify why I'm not spewing out dozens of sprogs with my happy little Alpha seeds planted in some unhappy Omega. You'd think as a species we would have evolved past the functions of our naughty bits by now. This is such a throwback for our society, it's going to make the plight of bonded Omegas even worse." He put his empty bowl in the sink and made his way back to his stairs, hauling his damp t-shirt over his head in the process and tossing it in the laundry bin near its base. He stood only in his shorts and scratched at the back of his head as he caught Hannibal staring at him from the entrance to the kitchen. He had that same, oddly cold stance again, his eyes glinting near black in the half light of the morning that was slowly creeping into a brighter wakefulness. Will's nails traced along his neck and down the centre of his chest, absently scraping at the dip where his heart beat in a quickened rhythm, inwardly noting that Hannibal took every slight movement of Will's scraping fingers along his own flesh in. Will shook the voyeuristic feeling off and climbed up the stairs. "I'm heading for the shower. Thanks again, for breakfast. I'll be back down in a few minutes."
"Any time, Will," Hannibal replied, and Will wondered if the man was coming down with something. His voice sounded hoarse.
The bodies had lost all of their artistic appeal for Will as he looked on them, spread out and hollowed on twin stainless steel gurneys. Beverly Katz prodded at the razors in Robert Allen's chest cavity, a gaping hole where his heart was supposed to be. She picked the razors out one by one with a pair of tweezers, her eyes squinting at each of them in turn, trying to find clues hidden on the little blades. "These are all new, they've never been used. The killer must have bought them especially for this, it's the same brand as the ones we found in Cortez." She lined the razor up with the others, a dozen in total for Robert's corpse, the same number as for his business partner. "I can't help but wonder if the brand used has any kind of significance."
"The Ripper is obsessed with details, of course the brand counts," Will snapped. Beverly gave him a warning glare through her yellow face shield and he shrugged in response. As an Alpha herself, Beverly Katz had no problem taking Will Graham, and sometimes Jack Crawford himself, down a peg or ten.
"All right, big shot, you're the one with the amazing mind reading capabilities, tell me how these are significant." She picked up one of the razors with the pair of tweezers, holding it aloft for Will to inspect. "They're too small for scraping off Alpha beards and my leg stubble. These are ones for downy types, like Omegas."
Will felt his head shake slightly as he looked on the razors, an uncomfortable understanding winding its way within his chest. "It's a proclamation of power." He frowned, and shook his head at the thought that instantly came to him, the implications too strange. "And elevation for the least of us." He bent low over the empty cavity of the corpse and to the shock of Beverly and the other forensic members of her team, he breathed in the aroma buried within it. "There's an Omega scent in here," he said, confused. "Female. But she's not the only one, the stringing them up, the display, the *idea*...This came from someone else..."
"What are you saying, Will?" Hannibal asked, his lips pursed. "That the Ripper has an Omega accomplice?"
"Wouldn't be totally out of the range of possibility, Omegas are meant to do what their Alphas want, after all. It does mean we can narrow down our suspect list a little, now that we know we're looking for a bonded Alpha and Omega pair." Beverly Katz gave Will a cheerful wink. "Good work, Graham. We'll get some scrapings of the heart cavity, see if we can get any alleles off of that Omega scent. The chromosomal fragments aren't nearly as good as solid DNA but we can narrow down the Omega perpetrator to regional type."
Jimmy Price, who had been busy matching brands to the razors on the computer screen in front of him, immediately pounced on this. "The genetic markers won't be as complete as they are with DNA, but we'll be able to figure out where the Omega was born thanks to the Genetics Bank in Minnesota. That can narrow down Omegas who are in the immediate area pretty quickly. Might take a while, though, the Bank is backlogged with Bonding Permits. All those jerks jumping on the McBain compulsory system getting a head start before the law gets pushed through. His party's offering huge tax rebates to anyone who meets the Alpha kid quota before the law goes into effect."
"Sickos," Beverly muttered as she stood up, snapping her gloves off and tossing them in a nearby trash can. "You'd think we'd have evolved past all this make believe evolutionary bullshit by now."
Jack Crawford's heavy steps could be heard echoing down the corridor leading into the forensics unit, his face one of grim determination. He pointed at the two corpses with the heel of a manila envelope. "Any progress?"
"We think he has an Omega accomplice," Hannibal blandly said.
Jack scoffed at this. "I can't go to Purnell with a detail that ridiculous, you'd better have something with more meat to it than that. I want to start interviewing the parents of the Omegas these creeps abused, see if they had any kind of connectivity between them."
"I can provide at least one," Hannibal replied. He stood beside Will, who kept him in his peripheral vision, Will not missing the strange inflection in his voice that sounded just that tiny little bit smug. "Two of the Omega victims are my patients."
Jack ground his teeth at this. "Would have been nice to have known that sooner, doctor."
"It did not have true significance before. Besides, I am bound by patient and doctor confidentiality, an ethic I may have already broken by simply telling you about them." Hannibal stepped back slightly as Jack advanced on him, putting himself again into Will's personal space, until their hips were nearly touching. Again, that tiny spark that left a shiver along Will's spine but he was loathe to allow it to diminish this time. Hannibal was right about his obligations to his patients, and Jack was, as was his habit, stepping all over other people's professional lines.
"The alleles Jimmy's getting analyzed through the Genetics Bank will help further pinpoint the suspect, Jack. Before we start re-traumatizing families and accusing their ruined daughters of murder, maybe we should make sure they have at least *some* measure of guilt first."
Jack clearly wanted to argue the point, but he stood down, realizing his impatience was getting in the way. Will knew the reason behind it, or better yet the person. Jade Purnell, his supervisor and over all ball buster, keen to put money in the shallow pockets of the FBI and to keep them on the right political side to ensure they got the deep end of the funding pool. It wasn't an easy tightrope to walk, the line between justice and sustainability, and presently Jack was strangled by it.
"I want to be the first person you call when you get those results," he barked at Price.
Hannibal's roomy Bentley was a joy to ride in and Will was happy his psychiatrist had opted to drive him home from the lab at Quantico. The car was filled with that subtle non-scent he had already come to understand was Hannibal's, likened to crisp air on a winter's day, calming and freeing. He found it easier to talk to him as a result of it, the usual pacing around a fellow Alpha discarded as conversation wound its way between them in a pleasant, easy banter.
The current conversation was based on art, and it became very clear to Will that though he was a doctor, this was Hannibal's great passion. 'I am not so partial to modernist pieces so much as those of the early renaissance," he admitted, after a long discussion about the merits of Francis Bacon's study of Velaquez's portrait of Pope Innocent X. The screaming Popes had captured Hannibal's admittedly more grotesque leanings in art, and Will found that they had at least this in common. He couldn't be the man he was, getting into the minds of killers and watching their horrors like it was his own memory, without holding a fascination for the gore.
"Bosch's 'Garden Of Earthly Delights' is my own favourite," Will said, and liked the way Hannibal hummed his approval. "I like to think that Hieronymous had a similar condition with his empathy, that he suffered like I do. The details in that painting are like memories within memories, each nightmarish fragment leading into a whole. I can see the plateau in the same way he must have, the vista of his waking dreams filled to bursting with the impressions he couldn't shake from outside of himself." Will shivered and ran a slightly shaking palm across his jaw, the thought of another's madness matching his own and transversing hundreds of years an empathic link that made him reel. "Do you think it's possible, on some level, that we are the sum of a collective memory, that our DNA is often overloaded with it?"
"Perhaps," Hannibal said, pursing his lips as he mused on it. "But it is more like an imposition of our own will upon the past, for what other filter do we have than that of our own perception?"
Will smiled slightly at this. He cast a long study over Hannibal as he drove, noting the precise motions of his limbs, the tense angles of his slender shoulders. Smooth lines and elegance. "What work of art do you perceive represents you?" Will asked.
Hannibal didn't hesitate. "'Judith Beheading Holofernes' by Caravaggio." He smiled at Will's shocked expression. "I hold no fascination for still life."
"Your choice belies a very passionate nature," Will said, his words slowly delivered, tasted on his tongue.
"I am a man of many passions."
"Yes," Will said, turning in his seat, liking the way he could tease along the circumference of Hannibal's words. "Dark leanings. A sense of power in blood. Is that who you are, Hannibal? Someone just itching to test the periphery of violence while you ride on this wave of cool facade."
"Are you suggesting I am consumed with murderous tendencies, Will?"
Will laughed at the very thought. "Judith seduced Holofernes before killing him. I'm guessing you're a bit of a lecher under that stuffy suit of yours."
"You're thinking of what's under my suit," Hannibal said, amused. There was a mischievous spark in his maroon eyes that glinted red as they left the road to meet Will's in fleeting recognition. "Are we still talking about art?"
"We are still on the topic of art being representative, and yours is especially passionate."
"Judith cut off Holofernes's head, is that the kind of desire you are talking about, Will?"
"That depends on whether it's actually my head you're considering cutting off, and that's a damned sensual expression of one's zeal."
Hannibal crookedly grinned at this as he turned down the side road leading into Wolf Trap. "I do like the shape of our conversations, Will, they are unusually oblong. Tell me, this little game we just played, is this a hint of your powers of empathy?"
"I..." Will's smile faltered, darkening the closer they got to his home, the dogs bouncing out of the back door to run for the car, eager to meet their master. "No, I wasn't using my empathy on you, that's not really how it works." Will frowned, turning it most definitely on himself, analyzing why he'd said what he did, his face reddening. "I...I actually think I was *flirting* with you..."
He grimaced as he turned away from Hannibal, extremely confused by his actions, for yes, that most definitely *was* what he had been doing and it made a sick little pool well up in the bottom of his stomach. Hannibal wasn't just his psychiatrist, he was another Alpha. That sort of thing just didn't happen, it was chemically impossible.
"It's all right, Will," Hannibal said, doing what he could to ease the profiler's discomfort. "I am your psychiatrist---your *friend*-- and feelings like this are common. I am flattered, and please don't concern yourself. It is natural to crush on a person with whom you share your most secreted thoughts with. Such intimacies are usually between lovers. You cannot be blamed for what your biology misinterprets."
"I'm not doing that, I'm not..." Will pinched the bridge of his nose and got out of the parked Bentley in a hurry. The cold air hit him like a slap and he revelled in it, liking the way it made his overly acute senses focus on other things than how warm and sweet Hannibal's proximity was against the soft leather seating. He leaned his arm against the open passenger window, feeling like the world's biggest fucked up loser. Maybe Jack was right after all, he really *did* need to get laid. "I'm sorry. It all just came out wrong, I didn't mean anything by it. I warned you that friendship with me isn't easy."
"I would have been disappointed if it was," Hannibal said, and gave him an understanding smile. "I would suggest my coming in so we could have our scheduled meeting, but it seems we have already had it on the drive back here."
"Yeah, I guess so," Will said, not sure why the sight of Hannibal's delighted face sat ill with him the way it did.
Hannibal drove away and Will watched the Bentley until it turned left off of his property, heading back in the direction of Baltimore and Hannibal's home. His dogs pooled around him in mute question and he gave each of their wagging welcome quick pats on the head for acknowledgement before heading back into his house. Dusk was creeping across the horizon, putting the bare trees into a skeletal relief against the purpling sky. He stumbled, tired, towards his refrigerator and was surprised to discover it wasn't empty as he'd suspected, there was another Tupperware container waiting for him. Will frowned as he picked up the small yellow post it note stuck onto the lid:
I have taken the liberty of providing you with an evening repast as well. Liver with demi glacee accompanied by potatoes rosti and a caramelized onion salad. Liver is an excellent source of iron, and as your pallor suggests an anaemic disposition I am sure your body will thank you for the rich nutrients it provides. Bon appetit!"
He must have put it in the fridge while Will had been showering in the morning, anticipating a rough day devoid of steady meals. Though he appreciated the effort Hannibal made, Will didn't have the appetite. The day had worn him down and all he really wanted to do was sit in front of the fire with his dogs and have a few fingers of whiskey, which is exactly what he did, ice clinking in the tumbler as he collapsed onto the worn couch, the fire brought back to life and a pile of dogs happily sleeping in front of it. The fire of the whiskey burned as it slid down his throat and into his belly, leaving a residual heat throughout his body. He closed his eyes, resting the tumbler on his chest, and wondered how it was he'd survived a day with that much posturing interaction. Alphas were damned exhausting.
He opened his eyes slowly and discovered he was in a wooded area, seated in one of Hannibal's office chairs, while the man himself was seated directly across from him, as though they were having a therapy session. Will frowned at the chilled mist that overtook them both, the tangle of gentle, dark green ferns and peat moss strangely soft beneath Will's bare feet. Across from him, Hannibal's feet were likewise nude, and Will had to bite down on the laugh rising within him at the juxtaposition of bared feet and a suit that cost more than his car. The mist felt pleasantly cool, and it spun through the night like a muffling blanket, giving Will the impression the air had turned to velvet.
He sat, staring across the small distance at Hannibal, who was carefully poised in his chair, his head turned with a sultry grace that made Will's breath catch. Maroon eyes met his own and Hannibal shifted in his seat, shrugging off his expensive suit jacket and draping it carefully across the forest floor in the space between them. Will dug his fingers into the leather padded arms of his chair as Hannibal began to unbutton his waistcoat, slipping it off and placing it on top of the suit jacket.
Will watched the graceful roll of Hannibal's shoulders as he slowly unbuttoned his white cotton shirt while his tie remained snug against his bared neck. He slid it off of his arms in languid movements that began to stir a specific interest in Will, one that spread a heat through his groin and made his cock twitch. The cotton shirt met the rest of the clothes on the ground between them, and Will could feel his breath begin to quicken as Hannibal undid the button and zipper of his trousers and slid them off, the expensive fabric laying on top of the pile. A pair of tented silk boxers along with the tie were all that remained, and Will felt his hips roll in his seat as he licked his lips and hungered for the elegant, beautiful creature sitting across from him. For Hannibal really was a delight to look at, all clean lines and perfect muscle, like a proud deer primed for the hunt.
As if in answer to Will's observation, white antlers rose behind Hannibal's chair, tangling in a thick, sharp tipped bundle that glowed bone white beneath the moonlight. Hannibal was enthroned among them, and the silk boxers were slid off, revealing his nakedness for Will's gaze to drink in.
Will was compelled to explore. Wearing only a t-shirt and knit boxer briefs himself, he slid from the chair and onto all fours as he headed for Hannibal, his knees and his palms crushing the fabric beneath them into the soft moss, ruining them. He travelled up the length of Hannibal's body, his hand tight around Hannibal's exposed, erect cock, pumping him lightly as he stole the pursed, expectant lips that were so ready for Will to ravish.
He liked the flavour of him, the one he only ever got the smallest hint of and seemed to be made of ocean air. His tongue lapped against Hannibal's own eager exploration, tracing along his teeth before pulling away, and leaving a trail of kisses along his bent neck. It was a pose that was decidedly demure and submissive and it sent a pang of want through Will's body, his fingers shaking as he moved up and down Hannibal's shaft, only to cup lower, and lower still, finding the damp centre that opened like a willing, wet hot flower beneath his touch.
Hannibal gasped and tried to pull away, and Will yanked him back by a sharp tug of the tie that was still snug around Hannibal's neck. Will wrapped the long end around his fist a few times, and pulled him close for another kiss, Hannibal sinking as Will dominated him with his silken leash. Will used it to guide Hannibal out of the chair and onto the ground, his tongue still exploring that delicate mouth as he smeared Hannibal's gorgeous suit with mud and streaks of green from the sprouted moss.
His hands on Hannibal, the man panting and whimpering as the little fruit within him began to swell, like a plumped up grape, and Will slid his slicked up fingers along Hannibal's hips and across the soft flesh of his stomach. Hannibal tried to resist Will's attempt to spread his legs, and Will tightened his grip on the tie, an action that made Hannibal gasp and moan and fall boneless beneath Will's dominance, his body opening up and allowing Will in.
He tasted so good, and his slick made entry easy, taking Will in all the way up to the base of his cock, leaving Hannibal to writhe and whimper beneath him, his head tossed back as pleasure overtook him. Will revelled in it, in the taking of him, messing up that perfect facade and making Hannibal roll in the muck, his calm demeanour forgotten as he clawed at the earth, his cries more determined now as he built up to orgasm.
Soft earth and hot flesh melded as Will draped himself over the writhing body beneath him, a collection of limbs that were his own and Hannibal's entwined in a complex knot. He cried out into the shudder of his own release as Hannibal lay spent and melted beneath him, small moans riding on an orgasmic aftershock.
He kissed him, soft and light and filled with a promise that many of these days were to come because Hannibal was *his*. He *owned* him. No one else was to set eyes on him, no one else was to touch him or interact in any way, for this beautiful flesh and bone was for Will alone to conquer and he had done so. Will Graham was king.
To Will Graham the spoils.
He slid his palm along the side of Hannibal's face, taking in the dark glint that stared back at him in seeming satiation and adoration. And it was when Will bent down to deliver another lust filled kiss that Hannibal pulled out the slender blade that was hidden beneath the layers of clothes and moss and swung its sharp edge across Will's neck in a single strike, beheading him.
Will awoke with a strangled cry, his hands on his neck as though holding his head onto it, breath coming in heaving, wheezing gasps. He was in his bed, in Wolf Trap, and a quick inspection of his belly revealed this particular nightmare was a wet one.
He'd dreamt Hannibal was an Omega and he fucked him into a forest floor. Oh, no, he won't be bringing up *that* dream in therapy! First flirting and now this? Hannibal was an Alpha, and Will's subconscious was clearly not getting the point. There was something seriously wrong with him, maybe he'd better schedule a clinic visit, make sure all his levels were right. Some cancers messed with hormones, didn't they?
Will ran his hands over his clammy face and took in the time. Five in the morning and he was wide awake. Yet another day with the sun rising up after him. A time for worms and all that.