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Drowning on Dry Land

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Will's eyes are tightly shut, but the hand gripping his arm is reassuringly, terrifyingly familiar. It grounds him physically for a moment; he's aware in a flash of clarity of Hannibal's body next to his, the way the hand connects to it, connects in turn to the feet bare in dirt and sand almost touching his own. The night air is cool on his face, and Hannibal is a source of shuddering warmth made up of exertion and-- and what?

The closest thing to panic Will has ever felt in him. It's a shock; the waves crash once more over his head, and he sways, swept away, the hand loosening its grip on him for a moment. He lurches and staggers, legs numb and useless underneath him.

"Will, can you hear--"

And catching him again, holding him fast. A second hand on his waist, and he wishes he wasn't so grateful for it. The maybe-forgiveness Hannibal is extending here is something Will has no right to expect. He could be wrong. It's possible Hannibal just wants him to be present and conscious when he takes his revenge, and Will wouldn't hold that against him. He tried and failed, it seems, to end both their lives, so Hannibal may as well do his worst.

"You're—have to--"

The voice is muffled, distorted by the ocean's depth, the weight of the Atlantic over his head. The roar of it fills his ears, louder and louder, and he knows there are words trying to reach him, can feel damp, salty breath close to his lips, but the harder he strains after them, the louder the roar grows.

He clutches at the arms pulling him closer, the only things keeping him from sinking to the very bottom of the ocean, and tries to shake his head, clear his ears. He squeezes his eyes even more tightly shut because god, he can't look at Hannibal yet, can't bear to see the damage he has done, the pain he has inflicted.

A thumb brushes his eyelid, the tender gesture forcing a stuttered gasp from his lips. The slide of Hannibal's palm across his cheekbone afterwards is a reminder that tender gestures from this man don't necessarily exclude further pain and violence, but the tide is changing, the torrent battering his senses abating.

Lips press to his temple, softer than he deserves. The ocean vanishes, leaving him washed up on the shore like human driftwood, and then, then is when the pain hits him.


The sky is starting to lighten when Will opens his eyes. There's gritty sand under his fingers, but his left cheek is resting on what turns out to be Hannibal's thigh. That means that the top of his head is pressed against Hannibal's crotch.

"This is probably inappropriate for a doctor-patient relationship," Will says. His voice is croaky, throat dry and sore.

"We are dead men, Will." Hannibal brushes the hair out of Will's eyes, and leaves his hand on his head. "Hard to say what is and is not appropriate in these strange new circumstances we find ourselves."

Will Graham was swept away by the tide then. "I should have signed up for a religion with a better afterlife."

Will can feel Hannibal's smile even though his face is in shadow.

"I think you will find this one can offer everything you deserve."

Will should probably be more concerned about that cryptic statement than he is right now. He keeps his gaze on the ocean instead. It's beautiful with the dawn glinting off it, but empty. Very, very empty. "A boat would be a good start."

"Patience," Hannibal says. "The time for planning was very short."

Will chokes out a laugh. "I'm sure it will work out better than my plan."

Hannibal says nothing, but Will doesn't think he is smiling any more.

"Hannibal?" He swallows the sudden lump in his throat. "What exactly is the plan?"

Hannibal is silent long enough that Will risks turning his head to look up.

"I think I will keep that to myself for now," Hannibal says eventually. He dips his head, eyes still hooded, and touches his fingertips to the wound pulling one side of Will's face uncomfortably taut. The fingers of his other hand wind into Will's sticky, filthy hair.


The fingers in his hair tighten their grip, and Hannibal finally meets his eyes. "Because whatever I tell you, we both know that you will be coming with me, don't we?"

Will doesn't answer, but it wasn't really a question. His eyes close, and he feels himself slipping under the water again.

This time it's calm, still and cool as it closes over his head.