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For Lo! My Own Shall Come to Me

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Hannibal dreams of his boy twice more before their paths cross in the physical world. For the most part, he dismisses these visions . Even as a child, the inchoate brother-creature of before, his capacity for belief was always astonishingly small. Now it has dwindled so as to be-- for all practical purposes-- non-existent.

So, Lecter does not believe his boy is real-- though, to be fair, he doesn't sincerely believe anyone is real. Actual beings possessed of physical matter, yes. He is not delusional, after all. It's just that they are ever so… unimportant. He can imagine their motivations, can read and manipulate their emotions and reactions with ease. He can even deconstruct their simian minds, which leads him-- with delightful and irreverent irony-- to psychiatry as his vocation. The one thing he cannot bring himself to do is empathize, invest, or even care. If he helps a patient heal, then it is for them to live on as an example of his skill, and a means to bolster his reputation. If he does not (and sometimes, he very deliberately does not, though not in any obvious way), well… In his profession, not everyone can be saved, and he is not quite held to the same level of accountability as, for example, an oncologist or a surgeon.

He studies philosophy and sneers at it, though it has its uses. The same goes for religion, and even psychiatry itself. Nor does he have any patience for the maniacal ravings of tyrants and despots, the political movers and shakers. After all, a desire to rule implies that there is, in fact, something that makes humanity worth ruling.

So, the dreams cannot be signs or portents; he slays them as such with his very lack of credulity. Nor do they stem from any outside stimuli. They correspond with none of the momentous occasions in his later life, nor with physical illness, or any sort of distemper. (This must also, however, take into consideration the fact that-- as Hannibal grows into manhood-- his primary response to almost anything is boredom.) He kills for the first time, and perceives no disruption in his repose. The overwhelming majority of his nights are still spent in blackness. Or, as he begins to have truly full and satisfying meals, a sort of deep red. It is not quite the shade of arterial blood with which he has made so happy an acquaintance; there is a midnight to it, an undertone of depth but also of illumination.
Bloodlight, he thinks of it-- and he finds it quite soothing, indeed.

 

His is an existence almost entirely free of mental tension. He feels at ease-- perhaps briefly 'content'-- when absorbed in his particular culinary arts, or bent over his sketchbook. It is killing that brings the world into prismatic color, whole vistas of experience and instinct that had remained unknown and unguessed before that first wonderful ravaging. And, of course, the manipulations of others has its own, subtle charms. These dreams, however infrequent, are irritating in part because they inspire a less familiar pleasure. One which anticipates greater ecstasies still. He would be shut of the visions altogether, and thus refuses to give them any conscious consideration.

No one is more ruthless than Hannibal when it comes to excising what displeases him.



(The dreams remain, however. A trio of dark jewels in the shallow pool of bloodlight. As plump and startling and mouth-watering as pomegranate seeds served on china of real human bone.

 

See, here, the second: A dark forest of emerald, a labyrinth of impossibly verdant trees which sunlight has never and will never pierce. In a way, it reminds Hannibal vaguely of summer spent in Breton, but it is too cool in the shade, implying a warmth in the outside climate. In a sighing quiet, the wood promises that anything beyond its borders will never be revealed. Hannibal is not perturbed by this-- he knows it is a dream, and stands placidly. His patience is that of the earth, waiting once more to be fed with open graves of corpse and charnel.

The trunks of the trees are made of ebony, though they quiver like muscle freshly cut. They are for the most part unadorned but, every now and again, there are faces etched into the 'bark', in various stages of decomposition. On a handful alone, tawdry figures of Christ in his final agony are impaled. White plaster, gold filigree-- gaudy in the extreme. The young Mr. Lecter (already a student at the University of Paris), breathes out through his nose. It is the only physical sign that his irritation is on the rise.

The trappings are an effrontery to his sense of aesthetics. And yet, there exists within the entire scence some odd vividness, an honest _abnormality_ that elevates them beyond mere props of what the great, vacant masses term a 'nightmare'. Anyone else would perceive this 'wrongness' as 'evil'. Lecter remains in part curious, but mostly unmoved. He has use for the duality of good and evil only as an amusing toy. A mirror-box with which to confound and frighten others. There is a beauty in true evil-- like Dore's cast-out Satan-- because evil is defiant.

Oh, but the imagery can be so very _useful_! Is his own boy not a breathlessly lovely archangel, Michael with his sword in the unwholesome wood? The familiar boy-- for still, he is a boy-- steps out from behind the malignantly lush vegetation. He cannot be more than a few years older than the first time Hannibal saw him, but he seems now to be more… _present_. The seductive fallacy of the dream is to think he might some day be an embodied thing, as the child Hannibal once wished. Still slim, clad in battered jeans and a t-shirt that clearly belongs on a grown man, the other is painted liberally with smears of oil and further… traces of rough labor. The glasses are remain ridiculous, the face blasphemously beautiful. It's like seeing Michelangelo's David reduced to a mere paperweight. Those blue eyes dart about-- it would be easy to think the child nervous, save for his stride. He is unapologetic; afraid, but also unwilling to be moved.

'There is a design,' the other whispers. His voice is so soft Hannibal cannot get a real sense for the sound. 'See it. Understand it. Take it apart.'

"Will that make you safe, then?" Lecter asks. His tone is light, prosaic-- almost cocktail conversation. The boy looks up sharply, maintaining eye contact just long enough to truly register the other visage, before looking away. He sways a little, bites those delicious bruise-red lips. Something about him folds in on itself, for protection, but his very presence in the forest is a challenge. When it becomes clear he will not speak, Hannibal continues, "It is rude to keep others waiting. Ruder still, to refuse conversation."

"I can't possibly have kept you waiting," the boy replies, with the careful diction of one already working to hide an accent, "because I wasn't looking for you." His voice is like a sighing note on a violin, in spite of the faint twang-- it will get deeper, with time.

Hannibal chuckles, almost honestly, "Then what are you looking for?"

The child does not share his amusement. The foliage around the smaller form seems to increase in its unhealthy luxuriance; the play of shadow and sound within the wood indicate some fatal error in dimension and perception. All at once, the academic knows the garish Christ-trees belong to his companion. The other has brought them into this dream world with him, though they clearly disturb and upset him. Giving them wide berth, he attempts also to skirt a wide parameter around Hannibal. He seems willing to endure the more lunatic aspects of the forest instead, but the undergrowth does not give him much room. He is several arm-lengths out of reach,and Lecter allows him this illusion of safety, for the moment. The Christ figures begin mutely opening and closing their mouths-- making silent screams that put one grotesquely in mind of goldfish.

"I was looking for a way out," the boy says shortly, taking slow, deliberate steps.

"And if there is no way out?"

"Probably there isn't." The acknowledgement sounds more cynical and exhausted than the youth has any right to be. "But I'll look. And dreams gotta end, eventually."

"Common wisdom," Hannibal concedes. The serenity of the other remains him of portraits of saints-- serene in their suffering. Surely this cannot be so. Smoothly, he lets his words paint what, for him, is a very desirable scenario indeed. "Perhaps this is my dream. As such, I could prevent it from ending, and keep you here."

Oh, _there_ is that delicious fear, turning those pale eyes indigo! Alive from within, too, an ember of indignation.

"I really, really wish you wouldn't." Any other child would at least say 'please', but not this one. Instead, he listens as a young buck in its first spring-- unsure of the wood, but at home there. Mirroring the first dream, his hands spasm, but now in tight expansions, as if his palms are burning. Little rivulets of garnet-- pigeon's blood-- crown his pale, high forehead.

'He feels too much,' Hannibal thinks, fascinated. To be entranced and repelled by evil is not an unknown condition. Rarer still, however, is to experience the pull and draw with perfect understanding. 'He does not get to pick and choose…' And that is awesome, in the old sense of the word. Full of awe, and the possibility for ecstasy, and fear.

The backdrop of the dream has now acquired a quality of alienation suggesting, breathlessly, that all of these prosaic things are a ruse. That behind each tree, each bump of moss (is that a toadstool of glittering crimson, there? new fungi clinging to the bark in the shape of children's teeth?) is something more alien still. The boy shivers, forces himself to keep his breathing regular.

"You do not have to be afraid," Hannibal tells him, coating the lie in honey. He would protect this boy from all others, but also brand him with a stigmata of Lecter's own choosing; hold him close and breathless, smother his screams. With all his practiced gentility, he holds out a hand, gesturing with the other toward a fallen log. "Come, sit by me. You will be safe from any others."

'But not from me' remains unspoken, but that alters nothing. The boy gives him a look so frank and dubious as to give a hint of what the grown man will look like. Thick glasses slip down the pert nose, eyes looking over the rims.

Just as Hannibal decides he will not wait, will peel away all the pathetic vestments of a life that is so obviously incapable of appreciating this little morsel-- there is a loud crash in the underbrush, a flash of painfully white antlers, and nothing.

Nothing save the thought that, for the barest moment, he had seen the boy lift his hand a little, as if he were about to reach back.)



Hannibal, in the staggering subtlety and strength of his full maturity, is a man of great taste. Cloth of only the finest quality, cut of only the most decorous style; cuisine with the same passion an artist might feel for their model. Color only of suitable palette, music that is the auditory equivalent of fine crystal. He is agonizingly precise, in the last detail. In Paris, an art professor once called him a 'painfully exacting realist'. Probably she intended to damn him with faint praise, but Lecter received it utterly as a compliment and gave her a dashing smile full of straight, white teeth. His attention to detail is precise, and painful-- usually for other 'people'. He does not think of them as true beings, any more than he thinks the act itself as 'murder'. Killing, yes, as a hawk may spear a mouse in the field. Slaughter? Very possibly-- there is a kind of unholy divinity in that moment, reaching in to palpitating organs and _ripping_. Never the less, his concealment is perfect. He has awards and laurels from much of the Ivy League; his name inspires awed whispers at his alma mater. The government itself has consulted him more than once. To serve and protect, indeed.

As he enters the ripe summer of his fourth decade, however, he begins to sense… a malaise. Faint, and fully understandable of a superior being in such company, but irritating never the less. His larder is full, his kills are perfect concertos, every meal is still satisfying, and yet… It cannot be articulated. Largely because Hannibal does not allow imperfection into his universe, but also because it is a thing without a name. _People_ feel 'restless' or 'unfulfilled', or-- heaven forbid!-- 'lonely', for whatever given value those words may or may not possess. Lecter is of a higher order, whole in and of himself, and therefore utterly without need for a companion. If there _were_ some other exactly like him-- a hypothetical twin-- they would almost inevitably rend one other to bits, each unable to stand the concept of not being absolutely unique. No, that isn't it. Not _quite_.

 

Actually, he is idly considering the prospect of murdering an FBI agent with knife and pencil. This one is large, broad-shouldered, and so utterly dependent on the image of himself as possessed of great strength that its really quite laughable. It would be lovely to decimate that column, bring the whole of structure of the agent's personality down in resounding rubble, before taking the parts for his next good meal. Or several-- the man is of prodigious size. Jack Crawford, however, saves himself just as Scheherazade did; with an unfinished story.

And so, on an utterly unremarkable day Hannibal allows himself to be ushered as a visitor down an utterly bland hallway. The office is a testament to dull, manufactured authority. Even the detailed crime scene photos, flow-charts, maps and victim profiles prove relatively uninteresting.

The boy, however…

 

No longer boy, truly, but a man. Still possessed of coltish mannerisms, affecting something of a hunch-sprawl in the chair. The lines and planes of the face have narrowed a bit, shaped into a graceful if elusive nobility; half obscured under glasses, shadow of stubble on the chin, and a head of unruly curls. Hannibal would think it some phenomenal incongruity, if not for the brilliance the man exhibits in every word of his analysis.

Will Graham, this creature is called. Fair enough, Hannibal allows-- what does one call a being possessed of pure empathy? Matyr, monster; sinner, saint. All of these masks and infinitely finer gradations flicker over that expressive face. Will Graham _hurts_, and it bleeds from him like music. He assumes, for brief flashes, a look of ruthlessness that would make pagan war-gods weep. And, as always, he is utterly unapologetic and unbowed.

"Don't psycho-analyze me," Will hisses, the moment the doctor tips his hand. He briefly enters Lecter's personal space while still barely meeting the doctor's gaze. As if he can _command_ Hannibal, as if he has anything of a choice. "You won't like me when I'm psycho-analyzed."

'Quite the opposite', Hannibal thinks, as he patiently listens to Crawford tell him how _he_ thinks Lecter should do his job. He should be saved from the assumptions and uninformed opinions of mediocre mortals. Privately, he is very nearly entertained. 'Will' may be a fitting appellation yet; to be possessed of drive, of spirit. To impose will, forcing one's desires into being.
"Good Will," he slips into the actual conversation, for he likes this last one best. To come in good spirits, with open arms. And how often does _that_ end well?

 

Still, he is not _entirely_ certain (something of a novelty in and of itself). He has no care for metaphysical concerns-- the nebulous 'whys' and mechanical 'hows'. If this is the boy Lecter saw first so long ago, then it as simple as that-- he has been made fact. Hannibal himself must, as always, proceed with the precision for which he is so famed.

He impales the female carcass upon pilfered antlers, paying particular attention to the drape, the articulation of limbs. There is the hair, of course, and how the sunlight will play on her white belly and blood-flecked thighs. He smiles sharply to himself-- it is amusing to assume the role of artist in ardent, covetous pursuit of a new and wholly enthralling muse.

 

He will give his good Will a test.

 

 

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